Over the past three years South Stokes volleyball program has continued to improve finishing last year with 13 wins.
“I see absolutely no reason why this trend shouldn’t continue,” said head coach Doug Balser. “We have had some good girls in the program for several years, but this year’s team could really be something special. The talent is here, now it’s up to the girls to really push themselves to accomplish their goals.”
In preseason the coach said the varsity team has come together to learn new concepts offensively and defensively. Returning is senior Taylor Moulton, a top hitter in the 2A Western Piedmont Athletic Conference.
“Madelyn McKinney and Maggie Joyce have both had good preseasons so far,” Balser said. “The nice surprise has been freshman Lilly Weaver on the right side. We knew that she would be a good addition, but have been pleased at the way she’s been putting the ball away in the early scrimmages.”
On defense Balser is equally optimistic.
“The talent is definitely there. We’re just working on some communication issues, as we have new players and players switching positions,” he said.
Mary Weaver is moving from defensive specialist to libero and junior Katie Manring returns after taking a year off.
“As these two girls gel, they might represent the best defensive duo in the conference.”
Balser is banking on captains Moulton and Sam Williams to continue their strong work ethic and leadership.
“We have some young players on the team and several girls switching positions so our program needs Taylor and Sam to step up and be the leaders that they can be. The real challenge will come in the middle of the season, when we are in the midst of three or four tough matches in a row,” the coach said.
Along with their leadership, the duo bring a depth of skill.
“Taylor has been having a very good preseason. During our scrimmages she was again an offensive powerhouse, but more importantly she had great defensive games both days. Sam will be setting for us again this season and she’s really been doing a good job getting balls to our hitters. Her play will continue to be a key to our success,” Balser said.
In years past, the Lady Sauras have relied on one or two hitters to pace the offense. This season the girls have multiple options.
“Of course during scrimmages there have been some rough moments as we sort out new positions and offenses, but as a whole the girls were extremely competitive against some good competition. The scrimmages have helped our coaching staff see some of the strengths and weaknesses of the team. We’ve used these to change a couple of things for the start of the season.”
Balser believes this team has the potential to go as far as they’re willing to work.
“This is just a great group of girls,” he said. “I’ve been coaching for 25 years and have seen many different teams, but this one could really do something special. The girls will have to push each other in practices and games, but I believe in them and they’re really starting to believe in themselves.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at (336) 813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.