NEWARK – The coaches said it dozens of times.
The Licking County League is deep for volleyball. It took a few losses for Licking Heights to realize it was not in Kansas, err, the Mid-State League-Cardinal Division anymore.
The Hornets hope this season they are better for it. They would like to make amends for a disappointing 2013 season.
“Last year, was the moment that opened our eyes,” senior Iyana Coleman said. “We knew we needed to work harder. This year, we are going to do our best to come in every game at our peak.”
Heights jumped right into LCL play, opening the season at Utica on Tuesday. The Hornets host Granville on Thursday, visit Lakewood on Saturday afternoon and host Heath on Tuesday, three teams that finished in the top half of the standings a year ago.
Heights’ graduation losses were highlighted by standout Jemiah Powell, but the Hornets are not void of talent. Senior setter Frankie Golden has an array of experienced hitters at her disposal, including Coleman and juniors Cassidy Green and Michaela Powell.
“Michaela is Michaela, and she can take over when she needs to,” Mosely said. “The surprise was Cassidy Green on (Aug. 11). She hit one out of the middle, and it went straight down. She is not normally a middle, and I don’t remember why I had her in there. It was the best hit I have seen out of her, so she is really stepping up.”
Height is a strength of Heights. To go with Powell in the middle, the Hornets have junior Hannah Fluty and sophomore Natalie Satterwhite, who has played high-caliber competition during the club season.
Senior Georganna Pendexter and sophomore Brooklyn Janks will contribute outside and in the back row. It will be all hands on deck on the back line to help senior Jada Fain and junior Alyssa Fravel.
“We are young again back there,” Mosely said. “Jada was the backup libero last year, and she is still trying to figure out the faster game. Yes, practice last year helped her, but it is different when you are playing game after game.”
With as many as seven players new to the varsity level that could see time, the results early could be slow to come. Mosely said she wished she had more time.
It was good she had 45 players try out, but because she had to make cuts, she lost some valuable practice time. The Hormets, however, are eager to learn.
“The practices this past week were more intense, and the girls responded better to pushing,” Mosely said. “They want to get better, and I have them coming to me, saying, ‘Did you see that hit? What do I need to do?’ Before, players would hit it out and just go on their way. These girls do want to get better, which is a good sign. I do wish I had another week of practice.”
Heights did not make a good first impression in the LCL, and the Hornets might have another chance to sneak up on the league. Golden, Green and Powell all missed the Newark Catholic preview this past Friday, and the Hornets split two sets with the Green Wave’s reserves.
“It seems like that is what has been happening here the past couple years,” Mosely said. “I never have a full team. (Sneaking up) was the hope last year, and we struggled on that end.”
The Hornets have a chance to change perceptions this fall.
“Our preseason has been going really well,” Coleman said. “We played together during the summer. We are bringing our pieces together during scrimmages. I think we play well together. I think we just need to figure out how to win, and we will be fine.”