By Rob Kiser
Second-year Edison volleyball coach Shelby Pitsenbarger knew last season was going to be like starting over for a young Edison volleyball team.
The Lady Chargers had just one sophomore in her first season as coach, with the rest of the roster made up of freshman.
“We knew it was going to be a learning experience,” Pitsenbarger said. “I feel like this year, we had more of a chance to go out and recruit players.”
Not that there weren’t some highlights in the 6-21 campaign.
And the Lady Chargers return some strong players from that team.
Leading the hitters will be 5-foot-9 outside hitter Tasha Potts (Piqua) and 5-11 middle Brianna Wells (Sidney).
Potts had 150 kills, 13 blocks, five aces and 288 digs a year ago.
Wells led the team with 211 kills and 28 blocks to go with 89 digs.
“We have both of them back,” Pitsenbarger said. “Brie (Wells-Barnes) played middle last year, but she may play some outside this year. And both of them have stepped into that role as sophomores and have provided a lot of leadership.”
Allison Watkins (Anna), 5-4, had 426 assists to go with 17 aces and 132 digs last year, while 5-4 Taylor Stover (Versailles) had 185 digs as a defensive specialist.
“Allison (Watkins) was our setter last year, but she may play more on defense this year,” Pitsenbrger said. “We have Taylor (Stover) back in the back row. I was a defensive specialist, so we take a lot of pride in that.”
Pitsenbarger also likes the recruiting class coming in.
“We have some strong recruits from some strong programs,” Pitsenbarger said. “Jackson Center won the D-IV state title last year, we have some good players from MAC schools who have a strong tradition. We have two good players from Wapakoneta, Samantha Vehorn is a really talented player from Botkins and we have Kaila Pleiman from Russia.”
Joining the roster from Wapakoneta are 5-10 middle Kasey Helmstetter and 5-7 setter Faith Hensley.
Helmstetter is an athletic outside hitter, while Hensley had over 500 assists last seasoon.
“Kasey (Helmstetter) is a solid outside hitter and Faith (Hensley) has experience running a 5-1,” Pitsenbarger said.
Coming from Jackson Center is 5-10 middle blocker Erin Metz.
“We are excited to get her,” Pitsenbarger said.
Another middle is 6-2 Densie Schwieterman from Coldwater.
“She is a tall girl and is an athletic player who is really going to help us,” Pitsenbarger said.
Rounding out the recruits is Vehorn, a 6-1 middle who led the Trojans in kills the last two seasons and Pleiman, a 5-4 defensive specialist.
“She is a strong hitter who has a great attitude,” Pitsenbarger said about Vehorn. “Kaila (Pleiman) is going to help us in the back row.
Pitsenbarger said the first step will be coming competitive in the OCCAC, where Edison was winless a year ago.
“Absolutely, we want to be more competitive,” Pitsenbarger said. “The conference is really strong, but you have to always look at Owens (Community College) as the favorite.”
And Pitsenbarger expects her team to surprise some people this year.
“All the kids have a great attitude,” she said. “I think the expectations are higher than they were last year and I am excited.”
As the Lady Chargers get ready to take next step with a good mix of youth and experience.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.