The Swanton volleyball team will be looking to reload following an 18-6 season in 2019. Despite losing the NWOAL Player of the Year and five other letter winners, Coach Kyle Borer hopes to see his team near the top the standings when the season ends.
“We had great leaders/captains that graduated last season who will be difficult to replace,” said Borer. “As we start the season, we will see how our leadership develops and who takes charge.”
Alexis Sarvo, the 2019 league player of the year who was also honorable mention All-Ohio, will be tough to replace. Also gone from last year’s team that finished 5-2 in the NWOAL are Jessica Dohm, second team NWOAL; Ashlynn Waddell, honorable mention NWOAL; Kylie Ulch, honorable mention NWOAL; Alexis Bergman, and Olivia Bergman.
Despite the losses, there are six letter winners returning for the Bulldogs.
Senior Samantha Taylor returns at libero after earning honorable mention all-league honors with 374 digs and 280 serve receptions last season. Sophomore Sofie Taylor is also back. She had 742 assists last season and was named honorable mention all-league and District 7.
Other letter winners back are senior middle blocker Avril Roberts, senior defensive specialist Bailey Arnold, junior middle blocker Trista Eitniear, and sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn Floyd.
“We have six returning lettermen back from a very successful season last year. We also have newcomers coming in to fill the holes left from graduation that won 18 matches as part of the junior varsity team last season,” said Borer. “I believe this experience will help guide our success this season.”
Newcomers include seniors Kailey Brownfield, Emma Operacz, and Savanha Jaqua; juniors Brooke Dockery, Morgan Smith, Sara Upham, and Brie Williams; sophomores Morgan Smith and Bailey DeKoeyer; and freshman Maddie Smith.
Borer said the offense will be a strength for the team. “We have (been) doing a good job of being aggressive and mixing it up to make teams play defense across the whole court.”
The cohesiveness of the group was also cited as a strength.
“As with each new season, I think our defense is where most improvements can be made. It takes some time to get used to playing defense alongside new teammates,” said Borer. “Ball control is a big part of this game and we need everyone to completely commit to the defensive part of the game.”
He said the team is happy to have the chance to play and will work hard to make the best of the situation. “Coming into this season, it is obviously different from the past based on the situation our society is currently experiencing.”
Teams have not had as much time together or played as much as a normal offseason. The Bulldogs were able to play in a couple July tournaments, giving Borer optimism for the season.
Last year, the Bulldogs were a couple sets from a league title, dropping tough 3-2 decisions to league champion Bryan and league runner-up Patrick Henry.
Borer said the team always has the goal of competing for a title in the tough NWOAL.
“I believe we have that capability to have that opportunity again this season as we continue to improve in practice,” he said. “I honestly feel like the league race will be among 2-3 teams and our expectation is that we will be competing hard every night to try to achieve that goal.”
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010