Looking to make some noise in their Section and Region this year, the Lady Wildcat volleyball team of Paden City High School is gearing up for a season of hard work and no surprises.
Last years Lady 'Cats came to within a heartbeat of making the Regional finals, finishing the year with a very respectable record of 29-13. This year, the Green and White have plans to do more.
"We have a great group of girls who have improved since last year and are showing more continued improvement every day," said head coach of the 'Cats, Fred King. "We lost two excellent players in Lynnsie Parsons and Logan Cosper to graduation last year and a true up-and-comer in Josie Fox when she moved earlier this year. We've been working hard and learning our roles on the court and we're ready to get the season underway."
Leading the charge for Paden City will be Myah Charkawi, the only senior on the Lady Wildcat roster this season. With that distinction will come a great deal of responsibility. "Myah is a fantastic athlete and is a proven leader on and off the court," said coach King. "She will be our team captain and the libero on the team. She has done an excellent job leading the team, helping the younger players and serving as a coach on the floor. Her serving has improved over last year and she's become a more precise hitter. She'll definitely be our number one defensive player on the floor."
Three experienced juniors return to Paden City's line-up: Graeson Baker (OH); Haley Hizer (MH) and Megan Pierce (OH).
"All three of these girls have improved their play since their sophomore year," the coach said. "Graeson has always been an excellent server and we're expecting more of the same from her this year, while Hizer and Pierce both are getting up higher and better and their improved blocking abilities will be a great asset to us."
Sophomores Cydney Blatt (OH), and Taylor Cosper (S) also return with varsity experience, Blatt as a strong defensive player and Cosper with skilled hands under the ball. "Cydney is moving over from the middle hitter position to the outside," King said. "She's got power and is blocking very well in practice and will help us on the outside. She's also got a strong serve."
"Taylor will be our main setter. She can absolutely play anywhere on the floor and be a tremendous asset where ever she plays, but she's a very strong, sure and consistent setter and will start there. Of course she has some big shoes to fill, taking over where her sister Logan left off last year."
An excellent server, adding 521 service points to Paden City's scores last year, Cosper is expected continue he prowess behind the line this season.
A large freshman class joins the ranks of Wildcat volleyball players this year with six: Kallie Arnett (MH); Abbi Still (MH); Madison Kelly (OH/S); Chelsea Baker (OH/MH); Mariah Lasure (OH/MH); and Shelby Gatian (OH/MH).
While Arnett and Still will likely see varsity time immediately at the beginning of the season, Kelly, Baker, Lasure and Gatian will bide their time at the junior varsity level for now, honing their skills, vying for openings in the varsity line-up.
King said the 2013 team goals are much as they have always been for the Lady Wildcat volleyball team: Get back in the OVAC tournament and bring home the championship banner as they have done for nine out of the past 10 years; conquer the Mason Dixon tournament; and make some noise in the Regional tournament at the end of the season.
"Our schedule is full of very, very good, solid teams," King said. "We'll face some of the best teams in the state and we need to be competitive right off the bat."
Paden City will begin the 2013 season on Sept. 4 at home hosting Linsly and Hundred. On Sept. 5, Valley will compete with the home team at Bob Burton Gymnasium in a dual.