By CAINE GARDNER
Despite the departure of key senior leadership, the South Putnam Eagles are more than ready to some damage in 2008.
For teams competing against South Putnam volleyball, one thing they can expect is an all out effort from the moment the whistle blows. A fact that head coach Jill Newton is extremely proud of.
"I think we're going to be competitive," Newton said. "I feel like we're a young team even though we have several people returning. I think they are a very scrappy team, which is nice to see. They don't like to see the ball hit the floor and don't hesitate to go after anything. So that's nice to see."
For Newton one of the best attributes of her team is their tireless work ethic. When they come to the court, they come with one thing in mind -- playing hard, which would make any coach enthusiastic.
The Eagles' core is composed from players from each grade level. The seniors leading the way for South Putnam are Oceaia Boetjer, Kaleigh Miller and Abbie Trauner.
"We have a pretty big junior class and several seniors, but I feel that as a young team we're still a young team in terms of experience," Newton said.
Newton discussed whom she foresaw as starters and what contributions each player would be making for the Eagles.
"We have Brooke Boetjer, who's a freshman; she's going to come up and play middle for us," Newton commented. "Our other middle is going to be Ashley Wombles. She's a sophomore that played on junior varsity last year, so those are two younger girls that are filling some voids that we lost last year.
"Then we have Oceaia Boetjer who's back as a senior playing outside opposite Abbie Trauner. Abbie played middle for us last year, but we're going to move her to the outside to begin with. We have Miller and Megan Klotz back as our setters and then we have a libero, Taylor Goss; she played junior varsity and a little bit of varsity. She played club ball last spring, so I've notice a big difference in her. We also have Katelyn Sibbitt on varsity; this will be her third year. Then we have Rachel Egold back. She's looking really strong and she's going to he our right side hitter," she added.
One of South Putnam's strengths Newton felt would give them an edge is their hitting. She described that the squad's hitting was looking good and also alluded to the fact that their depth could become a factor as the year progresses.
"I also feel that this year we have some depth. We have people that can play in more than one position and it's nice as a coach to have that flexibility to move people around if we need to," Newton said.
Two players Newton spoke of filling gaps for South Putnam were freshmen Jenny Thompson and Emily Dabkowski. She said that they will begin the year on junior varsity but will be seeing some minutes on varsity.
A difference from last year's squad that Newton discussed was the overall attitude. She acknowledged that last year's team was solid, but the attitude of her current team is on a different level.
"The overall attitude in terms of them coming in here and wanted to play and having the desire to win. That desire to not just show up for a game and be competitive, but the desire to show up and want to win and be winners," Newton commented.
The Eagles focused on conditioning in the offseason, working on ab strengthening, arm strengthening and running, because Newton doesn't want her team running out of steam during long matches.
The Eagles are early in their season and Newton believes the mindset her squad had entering the season would end up serving them well in the long run.
"We're more focused on the winning aspect of it, instead of just showing up to play," she commented. "I think there's more of a sense of teamwork and people getting along, which is nice. It's been fun as a coach, to coach girls that want to play and not just show up."