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New coach wants big things from Woodridge volleyball

by Roger Gordon | Correspondent Published: August 18, 2016 5:26 PM

For a team that finished 6-12 a year ago, first-year Woodridge volleyball head coach Melinda Hosford is certainly not shy when it comes to setting big-time goals for the season.

"We'd like to have a (Portage Trail Conference) Metro Division championship banner hanging in the gym," she said. "As long as we work as a team and avoid injuries, I think we can accomplish that and have some success in the postseason."

Hosford previously coached at the middle school and junior varsity levels. Her assistant coach is Breanna Reibau.

This year's Bulldogs will have some very big shoes to fill, as the team lost three key players to graduation last spring -- Shayla Williams, Hannah Gilles and Abby Esterak.

Leading the way for Woodridge will be senior outside hitters Breanna Arnett and Makayla Sypherd.

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"I'll be looking for strong hitting and leadership from both of them," Hosford said. "They're strong offensively and defensively. They're good communicators on the court and they're good hustlers."

Senior middle hitter Hannah Fitzsimmons is another player who will be relied on heavily.

"Hannah gets a lot of blocks, a lot of middle hits and she's quick at closing the window on a block," said the coach.

Junior setter Kaela Folatko will also be a key cog to the Bulldogs' fortunes.

"Kaela is my all-around playmaker," Hosford said. "She can get any ball up to where it needs to be whether it's a good hit, a tip or whatever it needs to be. She really hustles."

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Junior Ella Lathem is the "quarterback" in the back row as a defensive specialist.

"Ella has a good read on the ball and she's not afraid to hit the floor. She'll dive for the ball," said Hosford.

Two other returning players who will see plenty of action are juniors Celena Whitely, a middle hitter, and Alyssa Smith, a left side hitter.

Other team members are junior defensive specialists Francis Currier and Rachel DeMaio, sophomore middle hitter Skylar Takacs and two freshmen - middle hitter Jacierra Arnett and defensive specialist Lily Bowman.

The team captains are Sypherd, Arnett, Fitzsimmons and Folatko.

Hosford said her team is raring to go.

"The girls want to see what they're made of and see how the team meshes together," she said. "We're going to give it all we have."

Woodridge opens the season Aug. 22 at non-conference opponent Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. The match begins at 7 p.m.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC

Twitter:@MLeonard_RPC


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