Youth and inexperience have forced Pleasant High School volleyball coach Kim Atherton to juggle her lineup quite a bit this season.
Atherton recently said she believes she has found a good combination, and that has led to three Lady Spartans wins in their last four matches heading into last night’s action.
Because of some hefty graduation losses from last year’s 19-6 team, the 12th-year coach has had to utilize two freshmen and three sophomores in her lineup to go along with a pair of juniors and just one senior.
Those underclassmen have helped Pleasant to a 7-10 record in their first 17 matches and to a 4-4 mark in the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference.
“My kids are not physically big, but they play big,” Atherton said. “They are quick, athletic, and disciplined which benefits us on the defensive side. They are also scrappy and feisty.
“We read hitters well, our setter is athletic and runs the floor exceptionally well, and our libero is quick and explosive. Our work ethic and competitiveness have also helped us.”
Four returning letter winners are leading the Lady Spartans this fall. They are senior hitter Kari Verity, junior libero Brittany Davis, junior defensive specialist Kamryn Queen and sophomore setter Hunter Atherton, who was a third-team All-Ohioan last season.
The remaining varsity lineup has consisted of sophomore outside hitter Ciera Greene, sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Massey, freshman middle blocker Lydia DePrey and freshman outside hitter Anna Schmidt.
Graduation cost the Lady Saprtans conference honorees Kayla Briley and Autumn Snider, who are both playing at the University of Rio Grande, along with Kendell Queen and Cassie Hosp.
Ten letter winners are back for seventh-year coach Randy Owings.
They are seniors Tre Wells, Zane Burris, Janik Tackett, Taylor Young and John Bolander; juniors Scott Bowdle, Caleb Creasap and Abigail Russell; and sophomores Blake Sharrock and Brady Thompson.
“Our seniors are accepting leadership roles,” Owings said. “Everyone is understanding their roles on the team, and we are working as a family and not as individuals.
“Our strengths are athleticism and building trust in each other. We have several players scoring, making assists and stepping up defensively.”
Absent because of graduation from last year’s 5-2-10 team are Jay Reid, Kyle Weiss and Seth Owings. Owings is playing at Heidelberg University.
First-year coach Mike Kile’s Pleasant golf team was led by senior Eric Boltz, juniors Ethan Blough, Rob Martin and Dustin Sites, and sophomore Dylan Brewer, all letter winners from a year ago.
Blough recently qualified for the Div. II Central District tournament. He will play Monday at River Greens Golf Course near Coshocton.
The Spartans team won the Mount Gilead Invitational this fall, finished second in the Marion City-County Tournament and placed third in the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference Invitational.
No information was available from the girls tennis team or cross country teams