Panthers must replace all starters from last season

Published 4:11 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What the 2011 Jemison volleyball team lacks in experience, it hopes to make up for with youthful enthusiasm.

All of Jemison’s regular starters from last season were lost to graduation, but two of the eight in the regular playing rotation will be back: juniors Shelby Griffin and Haley Smitherman.

Coach Leighsa Robinson said Smitherman “did an extremely good job” at right side hitter last season, but this year will move to the left side.

Griffin will again play middle blocker.

Another returning player is sophomore Denten Ellison, who played some at the varsity level last year, especially when Griffin missed time with an injury.

Two seniors, meanwhile, will be counted on to solidify the defense. Robinson said Tiffany Guin and Morgan Posey have become team leaders even though they aren’t returning starters.

“I think they’re really expecting a lot out of themselves and their team,” Robinson said.

Posey benefitted from playing club volleyball over the winter and spring.

Junior Lauren Price, who was the junior varsity setter last season, will step into that role for the varsity squad.

“Lauren has worked extremely hard in the offseason, and she did a lot of conditioning because there is so much that is expected out of a setter,” Robinson said.

Price’s transition will be made easier by her familiarity working with Ellison and Morgan Lucas, a sophomore who will play right side hitter.

Newcomer Lauren Crosby, a freshman, brings athleticism to left side hitter even if she is inexperienced.

“Once she learns the game, then she is really going to be an asset for our team,” Robinson said. “She’s having a lot to process, but she learns quickly. I think the girls have really taken her in, and it’s going to help us out in the long run.”

Another player to keep an eye on is junior Lindsey Gerth, who could see the court as a libero.

With all the youth, Robinson said a transition year is unavoidable.

“I tell them, ‘It’s not where you start but where you finish,’” she said. “Our goal is to improve every single time we get on the floor. If we do that, then we’re going to be fine.”