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With the nucleus of players returning this season, Columbus East volleyball fans should have plenty to cheer about.
Things obviously got started on the right foot as the Olympians swept Terre Haute South and Bloomington North on Saturday in season-opening matches.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said veteran coach Faith Wilder-Newland, who begins her 22nd year with the Olympians. “A lot of our hitters are back, but we’ve got to keep working on defense,” she said.
East lost its top front-liner in Heidi Anderson but welcomes back the one-two punch of senior Sara Bean and junior Erin Mack. The junior tandem of Micayla Speidel and Carly Robertson also will bring experience and hustle to a squad that traditionally challenges for the Hoosier Hills Conference crown and postseason accolades.
Coach: Faith Wilder-Newland, 22nd year
Key returnees: Seniors Sara Bean, Becca Garrison, Courtney Ping, Killy Vincent and juniors Faith Myers, Micayla Speidel and Carly Robertson
Throw in the senior trio of Becca Garrison, Courtney Ping and Killy Vincent, plus junior returning setter Faith Myers, and it’s understandable to see why East would be considered a team to do damage in the postseason.
“There’s no doubt that helps,” said Wilder-Newland. “Having our setter back is a big plus.”
About the only hole to fill, Wilder-Newland said, is at middle hitter, where Tayler Chandler will get an opportunity along with 6-foot freshman Kortney Thalls, who is dealing with a concussion.
“So far things have gone really well,” Wilder-Newland said. “Again I feel defense is where our focus has to be as things go on.”
The Olympians host a tournament Saturday.
“Our schedule is going to be really tough,” said Wilder-Newland. “We’ve got HHC teams like Seymour and New Albany and we also compete in the Muncie Central tournament, which always has some of the best teams in the state.
“We’re just going to take things one step at a time.”
The Columbus East Invitational begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.
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