HOUTZDALE — The Moshannon Valley volleyball team made some breakthroughs last season under head coach Bob Lewis.
But with most of those starters gone and Lewis handing the reins to former assistant Samantha Herto, the Damsels will have a new look when they take the court.
Gone are seven seniors that anchored the team. Mo Valley returns six letterwinners, including several juniors who saw some playing time in 2020.
“Not many of these girls have a lot of varsity experience, but I still have high expectations for them,” said Herto. “I feel they are capable of stepping up to be great leaders on our team. If they are able to do that, I think we have a good shot at being competitive this season.”
Herto said she knows what the girls expect of her since she had been Lewis’ assistant the past two years.
“I’ve been working with these girls as the assistant over the years and have gotten to know them pretty well,” said Herto. “I think we have developed a mutual level of respect, and I am excited to see what we can do this season working together.”
Herto said while there isn’t a ton of experience in the group, they have a good approach to the season.
“The biggest thing this group has going for them are their attitudes towards this season,” she said. “They are excited, feeling positive, and ready to give their best effort. They are really a great group who work well together and are willing to play as a team.”
Herto said one of the biggest things the team has worked on is its serve-receive, something they’ve made a priority the last few years.
“We have been working a lot on our serving and our serve receive,” Herto said. “We know these are areas we want to improve on from last season. I have seen great progress from our seniors especially who have been working hard to better their games in not only these areas but others as well.”
Despite losing seven seniors from last year’s squad, the Damsels seem to be jelling and finding their roles.
“We did lose a lot of seniors from last season and a lot of starters, but that’s never the vibe I get working with these girls in the gym,” Herto said. “They are ready and willing to fill those roles and show what they are capable of.”
There are a total of 18 players on the roster and Herto said she is pleased that.
“I am very happy with our numbers right now,” she said. “We have actually had years as of recent where we almost had too many girls. We’ve got a roster of 18 and they will all have a role to play.”
Herto said while she hopes the team continues to get better throughout the season, she also hopes they enjoy just playing the game.
“This season more than anything I want the girls to have fun and believe in themselves,” she said. “We’ve talked a lot about how we play better when we have that mindset. We all agree that if we can stay mentally ready to play that it will be reflected in our record.”
Herto said her starting lineup will consist of Maddie Mills, Rashelle Greenawalt, Melena Templeton, Emily Schaefer, Jaley Agans and Tiffany Vanish.
“We are going into this season with a positive vibe and hoping to carry that into each game we play,” Herto said. “The girls have really been fun to work with as we have been preparing for games to begin. I am so proud of this team already, and I am confident in their abilities to reach their fullest potential this year.”
Moshannon Valley opened the season on Tuesday night against Williamsburg.
The Damsels won the match 25-21, 16-25, 25-17 and 25-19.
Greenawalt had five assists and Mills had four aces, while Templeton had three kills.
“They did exactly what I asked of them,” Herto said. “They played with confidence and had fun. I couldn’t be prouder of them starting off the season on a positive note.”
Moshannon Valley returns to action on Thursday at Glendale.
*Jaley Agans, *Rashelle Greenawalt, *Destinee Ropp, *Emily Schaefer, *Melena Templeton, *Tiffany Vanish.
Annabelle Johnson, Maddie Mills.
Ella Berg, Angelina Dong, Isabella Ferguson, Tessa Martin, Karleigh Sage, Riley Wharton.
Maddie McCoy, Brooke Mihalko.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
7—at Williamsburg. 9—at Glendale. 14—at Bellwood-Antis. 16—Curwensville. 21—West Branch. 23—at Mount Union. 28—at Juniata Valley. 29—at Purchase Line. 30—Williamsburg.
4—St. Joseph’s. 5—Glendale. 7—Bellwood-Antis. 11—Clearfield. 12—at Curwensville. 14—at West Branch. 18—at St. Joseph’s. 19—Mount Union. 21—Juniata Valley.
All matches begin at 7 p.m.