CHARLESTON -- The Charleston Lady Bluejays volleyball team will face a rebuilding year in 2008. The Lady Bluejays lost most of their 2007 varsity team to graduation as the likes of Faye Parker, who was named to the all-conference team last year, Tiffany Johnson, Brittany Browning, Christian Haines, Emily Dugan and Brittany Stack will be hard to make up for.
The new look for the Lady Bluejays will be anchored by the sole returner with extensive varsity experience, junior setter Jessica Lenderman. Lenderman will pace the offense as it is the setters job to orchestrate the whole offense. The rest of third year head coach Kathy Browning's squad will be rounded out by juniors Samantha Stack, Amber Karnes, Cortney McCann and Chelsie Lane. Browning also has seven freshmen and one sophomore that will see a lot of quality junior varsity time this year.
The loss of height on the court will be a hindrance to Charleston. "We just lost so much height, and that's a tough thing to lose" Browning said. The Lady Bluejays will have to revamp their attack and defensive styles from last year to adapt to their new team.
Browning is focused on the future of Charleston volleyball. "Our volleyball program has never been very strong. That's something I'd like to change that by getting younger girls involved and increasing interest," Browning said.
Browning points to the fact that a lot of school programs begin in the fifth or six grade, as well as the benefit of a youth program, which gives them an edge. Charleston's school program begins in the seventh grade and they do not have a youth program.
However, interest is high in volleyball in Charleston this year with 18 girls on the varsity and junior varsity teams. Browning feels good about getting those girls an opportunity to play and improve.
Browning will begin coaching the middle school team in the spring and would like an opportunity to help even younger girls get involved so that the are more fundamentally advanced when they reach the varsity level.
Browning emphasized how hard her team is working to improve. Charleston participated in a camp this summer taught by Murray State assistant volleyball coach Ding Ping Fang, who taught the girls how to adapt to the personnel the had.
"He worked with us on how to deal with our lack of height. He worked with us on a lot of fundamentals and it was a great learning experience for the girls" Browning said.
Browning said that passing is an area which the team needs to improve. "Right now, we are really focusing on passing" Browning said.
Browning pointed to her teams hard work, attitude and character as major strong points. "My girls have a fantastic attitude and they don't get down on themselves. They are so positive and work hard at improving every practice." Browning said.
The Lady Bluejays will kick off the 2008 season on Sept. 2 with an away game in Caruthersville at 6 p.m.
Coach: Kathy Browning
Key players: Jessica Lenderman, Samantha Stack, Amber Karnes, Cortney McCann and Chelsie Lane
Players lost: Tiffany Johnson, Brittany Browning, Christian Haines, Emily Dugan and Brittany Stack
Sept. 2 -- at Caruthersville, 6 p.m.
Sept. 4 -- at Malden, 6 p.m.
Sept. 11 -- at Portageville, 6 p.m.
Sept. 15 -- vs. Hayti, 6 p.m.
Sept. 16 -- vs. NMCC, 6 p.m.
Sept. 18 -- at Puxico, 6 p.m.
Sept. 20 -- Perryville Tournament, TBA
Sept. 22 -- vs. Meadow Heights, 6 p.m.
Sept. 23 -- vs. Twin Rivers, 6 p.m.
Sept. 25 -- Gideon Tournament, TBA
Sept. 29 -- vs. Sikeston, 6 p.m.
Sept. 30 -- at Dexter, 6 p.m.
Oct. 6 -- vs. Richland, 6 p.m.
Oct. 14 -- at Kennett, 6 p.m.
Oct. 16-18 -- SEMO Conference Tournament, TBA
Oct. 20 -- at Meadow Heights, 6 p.m.
Oct. 21 -- at Oak Ridge, 6 p.m.
Oct. 23 -- vs. Oran, 6 p.m.
Oct. 27-30 -- Districts, TBA