SYCAMORE TWP. – The rigors of the Greater Miami Conference can be overwhelming for some young coaches, but not for Brittney Billiter of Sycamore High School.
In her second year as girls volleyball coach, she brings the mentality of the Girls Greater Catholic League from her days as a player at McAuley and knows the ins and outs of the GMC from coaching boys volleyball at Lakota East. To boot, she lives in the Colerain area.
When Greg Ulland stepped away from the Lady Aves job last season, Billiter was his hand-picked successor.
“I know a little bit about tough leagues,” Billiter said chuckling.
Her assistants also know plenty about competitive volleyball. Danny Frank played at Moeller and junior varsity coach Kylee Tarantino played at Mount Notre Dame and NKU. Both played for Greg Ulland.
Their mission at Sycamore is to bring the program up to speed with the traditional volleyball powers. Where private schools often have the luxury of feeder programs, Sycamore and others often have to turn athletes into volleyball players at a faster rate.
“We try to run a lot of things at practice and get a lot of reps so we can up that level as fast as we can,” Billiter said.
After a 15-9 season (5-4 GMC) in her first year, the Lady Aves are around the middle of the pack this fall behind Lakota East, Mason, Lakota West and Oak Hills.
“We’re very young,” Billiter said. “There’s only three girls that started for us last year. We start three sophomores and will return a lot of our players, which is nice.”
Billiter is still close to former coach Ulland, so there weren’t wholesale changes when she took over the program in 2014. Though they have different styles, she still bounces coaching ideas off of him. Their biggest difference is obvious.
“I bring a little bit of ‘teenage girl mentality’ and have an understanding of that,” she said. “We didn’t change a whole lot (on the court).”
Sycamore’s captains are senior middle hitter Patty Blood and senior libero Camila Cardenas. The only other seniors are outside hitter Lydia Deppert and defensive specialist Oksana Schornak.
Blood has had some college interest and sophomore setter Abbie Hughes has had inquiries at Auburn and UAB. Many of the girls have played the game for a while, but some of the girls were recruited from the hallways or other disciplines.
Junior middle hitter Angel Ruffin is a noted track and field athlete at Sycamore, and junior middle middle Fanta Kouyate, the tallest Lady Ave, never played until her freshman year.
While Billiter hopes for the best to finish this season, long range forecasts look pretty good with five juniors and three sophomores returning, plus developing talent rising from the JV and freshman teams.
Sycamore visits Billiter’s alma mater, McAuley, Oct. 14, before ending the regular season at home against Seton Oct. 15.