LONG CREEK - Short on numbers and experience but high on enthusiasm are the key phrases for the 2003 Long Creek High School volleyball team under the direction of new head coach Lloyd Hartley.
The Mountaineers have just eight players on the roster and not a lot of experience on the court, including Hartley who has never coached volleyball before, but the head coach said the girls have been doing pretty well in preseason practice sessions and are learning the fundamentals.
Senior Cassi Ross is the lone returning player for the Long Creek team which lost four graduating seniors and three foreign exchange students off the 2002 squad which reached the district tournament before being eliminated from competition.
"We have a lot of new players on the team, but the program has been going smoothly. It's been really nice because some of the former players, Miranda Bennett and Joey Vaughan, have been helping out at practice before they leave for college," Hartley said.
New players on the Mountaineers' roster include juniors Jennifer Lynall and Samantha Verstoppen, along with freshmen April Drew and A.J. McHatton who are all "home grown" players from Long Creek.
Augmenting the roster are foreign exchange students Miriam Stenzel from Germany, Dani Russo from Brazil and Shiori Minamihara from Japan.
"The girls have been getting the fundamentals down and are learning to play together," Hartley said. "All of them have been working hard and we are starting to come together as a team. I just hope we can stay free from injuries and if we can, looking for us to have a good season this year."
Long Creek opened the season at the Prairie City Tournament of Saturday, Sept. 6, and host Spray in a match on Thursday, Sept. 18. Tip-off for the match against the Eagles is 5 p.m.