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The 2020 Sherman High Volleyball team is pictured.

SETH — Sherman High School volleyball welcomes back fourteen returning players from the previous year. Even with four seniors graduated, the team Coach Terri Dawn Williams has to put on the court in 2020 is experienced. She likes what she has seen from them during practice.

All three varsity setters return to the lineup, including sophomore Baylee Snodgrass, senior Opal Toney and senior Cassidy Lewis. Senior Amber Maloskey comes back as a hitter, along with fellow senior Caraline Nelson and junior Kenzi Rinchich. In practice, these hitters have shown their increased strength from last year, something Coach Williams anticipates seeing in the regular season. Juniors Zoey Steele and Shaylee Lewis look to slot in as hitters with them. Senior McKenzie Dickens and sophomore Annika Roop are both candidates to take up the mantle of libero after the departure of 2019 senior Autumn Thompson.

All seven freshmen joining the team played at the junior high level, something which will come as a help to their play in high school. Williams said all of them have exhibited skill in practice. Gracie Riley, in particular, has demonstrated immense hitting ability for a freshman, Hannah Stout is able to play in both the back and up front, and Ava Russell has shown promise in the preseason.

Coach Williams said passing and serve receiving are points of improvement. Getting hitters set up will help to complete the style of play that she sees the team to be capable of. Blocking and playing the net will be another goal to meet.

“We haven’t been as aggressive as I want to be at the net,” Williams noted. “If we do these things, I think we’ll be pretty good.”

The Lady Tide’s approach to handling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been keeping coaches on their toes. Schedules are constantly moving around, and games are being rescheduled as updates on teams come out. The color-coding system may render opponents unable to play even if Sherman is able. In a sport that does not commonly deal with occurrences such as snow days, Coach Williams said it has been a different experience.

“That’s something in volleyball you don’t usually have to do, because you don’t lose (the ability to play) a lot of games.”

Possibly one of the greatest challenges of this new normal is the need for funding, something Williams said is becoming a challenge for programs across the state. Money made from concessions goes toward paying for referees, and having limited attendance will make things complicated. The team is determined to fundraise and ensure that they are able to meet these needs.

The Lady Tide have made regionals three out of the last four years, a record for the program. What comes next for Sherman is qualifying for the state tournament. Coach Williams has faith in the ability on her team.

“If we get to play all year, and if we keep improving, then I feel we have a shot at that this year.”

Sherman is to host Van Senior/Middle School at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8.