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Expectations are high for the Lady Panthers volleyball team after winning their first-ever 31st District championship last season. But the girls are determined and more than ready for the challenge and to surpass it, aiming for an 8th Region championship, first-year head coach Lynn Eaglin said.
“This year’s team has the determination, mindset and ability to achieve their goals,” she said. “The Panthers are hardworking and motivated to excel at the highest level. This team will have a good mix of leadership and experience, combined with energy and determination that should make for an exciting year.”
The ladies return six players with varsity experience: seniors Brittany Yocum, Michaela Culver and Emily Baker and juniors Stevie Ogburn, Kelly Layton and Karly Prosser. New to the varsity team are senior Jessica Foster, junior Sabrina Young, sophomore Allie Simmons and freshman Abby Miracle.
Baker will run the offense from the setter position. She spent last season developing as a passer and shadowing last season’s senior starter, Caitlyn Burke.
Yocum, voted captain this year by her teammates – along with co-captain Prosser – will take over the libero role previously held by Megan Harris. Eaglin said Yocum is her vocal leader. Yocum played the libero position on JV sophomore year and played back row last year. “Her experience will help in fulfilling that role.”
Culver is moving from outside to middle hitter, filling Ariel Hotfil’s old spot. Foster is a solid passer and will play back row, Eaglin said.
The strength of the Lady Panthers is that they are well balanced in both the front and back court, Eaglin said. “It’s not the strength of the individual players, but the strength of the team and how they all function together.”
Carroll County kicks off the season at home Aug. 22, against Lloyd Memorial. The All-A Tournament will be held Sept. 7, at Owen County, with qualifiers competing in the state tournament Sept. 14. The 31st District Tournament will be held at Eminence this season. The winner of this year’s districts will host the Regional Tournament.
New to the schedule is the Cake Classic Tournament Sept. 20 and 21, at Highlands High School. Eaglin said she is looking forward to the tournament because a lot of tough teams from Region 9 will be there.
She also is looking forward to battling border foe Trimble County. The two teams clashed four times last season, with Carroll coming out on the losing end every time. The two teams will meet in Bedford Aug. 28, and in Carrollton Oct. 7, which also is Volley for the Cure night.
After five years as assistant coach, Eaglin said, “It was time” to move up into the head coaching spot. Former head coach Kristen Hooper moved back to Ohio to be closer to her family.
While the time commitment is the same, added responsibilities have come with the head coaching job, including working with the media and scheduling games, Eaglin said.
Eaglin played volleyball from fifth grade on through high school. She graduated from Bellevue High School in 1998 as a three-sport athlete – volleyball, basketball and track. She coached club volleyball for NKJV for two years before coaching at Carroll County.
She said she strives to help young women develop character, teamwork, integrity and a strong sense of oneself through the sport.
“The kind of character development I learned through volleyball and sports taught me discipline over time, and I wanted to instill that in the girls,” she said. “Even if they don’t become great volleyball players, there is plenty of reward in the process. Volleyball is a great game for building character.”