DALEVILLE – Conventional wisdom says that the most experienced players serve as team leaders.
But when the Daleville volleyball team voted on a team captain, the players elected a sophomore. Then, coach Beth Etchison picked another sophomore as a second captain.
That might seem unconventional, but the Broncos seem to be OK with it. The two sophomores – Lindsay Ingenito and Zannah Weber – are confident in their ability to take charge.
“We know what our role is on the team, and we push the others,” said Weber, the Broncos’ setter. “We even push the other upperclassmen to get better.
“They accept their role, we accept ours; that’s how it is. They’re supportive and they’re happy for us that we were able to get this.”
That this is how it wound up isn’t entirely surprising upon closer examination. Ingenito was an All-Conference and All-County player as a freshman, and Etchison says Weber is a sharp volleyball mind who is in a natural leadership role as setter.
But to have four seniors and three juniors buy in is crucial.
“To follow a sophomore captain, that tells you about our team this year; we’re completely selfless,” Etchison said. “Everybody fills their role where they know they can help best for the team. It’s not about them, it’s about the team. That’s what I love about this group.”
Weber was voted in by her teammates, while Ingenito was tabbed by Etchison. A third captain will join the duo at pregame meetings with officials, which will be chosen by Etchison each week based on character and practice performance.
The Broncos, who went 12-15 last season, will rely on Ingenito in the middle. Etchison said Breanna Townsend is strong on the outside, and she’ll be joined by Jenny Shellabarger – the team’s most improved player last season. Lexi Leisure, another member of a strong sophomore class that won the county championship as eighth graders, will be the libero. Zoe Brubaker will play in the back row, with Liberty Christian transfers Kaylee Allen and Emily Kardatzke on the right side.
Etchison likes using the “next-man-up” mantra for her lineup, which only works when players support one another. The Broncos don’t see that being an issue, either.
“If they’re told they’re not going to play this position right now,” Ingenito said, “they’re OK with that and willing to cheer on the other people who are in, and support them no matter what.”
Etchison said she has put together a difficult schedule – including right away with defending state champion Wes-Del, Wapahani and Cowan – but she’s excited to see how the team responds.
“I think we’re balanced,” Etchison said. “Experience and a young core that is hungry.”
Contact sports features writer Ryan O’Gara at (765) 213-5829. Follow him on Twitter @RyanOGaraTSP.