The South Decatur varsity volleyball team opened its season at home Monday night. The Lady Cougars played three hard-fought sets, but fell behind in the fourth set and lost 26-24, 24-26, 24-26, 15-25.
“The girls played a great game,” said head coach Lisa Bennett. “We just couldn’t finish it. We were up numerous times throughout the games, but just couldn’t keep the lead. We worked well as a team, but needed to communicate a little better.”
Bennett noted her post-match observations with a fair analysis.
“Overall, I was happy with the team; you could definitely tell it was the first game of the season,” she said. “We have a few bugs to work out, but overall it was a good start to the season – of course a win would have made it even better.”
Senior Ashley Johannigman led South with seven kills. Senior Julia Miller and junior Megan Niese each tallied four kills. Johannigman led the team with five service aces, while junior Brittany Koors recorded 10 assists at setter.
South next travels to Edinburgh Thursday for its next match.
Among the biggest strengths of the team will be hitting, experience and versatility. Following last year’s loss to Hauser in the sectional championship, Bennett said she sees South as tournament contenders and advancing past the sectionals.
“I see us being conference champs this year,” she said. “Whether or not we win conference, we’ll see. But I think they’re fully capable of winning sectional.”
The Lady Cougars return four seniors to the court this fall. Courtney Billingsley (defensive specialist), Clarissa Baltus (front outside hitter), Ashley Johannigman and Julia Miller will return to play key roles.
“AJ and Julia will play all the way around this year,” said Bennett, adding that they have “stepped up real well.”
Junior Brittany Koors, according to Bennett, will run the offense at setter and bring leadership to the team.
Most of the girls who played between varsity and JV will have an increased role this season.
“We have girls that played some varsity, playing full-time this year,” said Bennett. “They look very good. I have high expectations for them.”
Juniors Megan Niese and Olivia Watkins and sophomore Mariah Green (Libero) will play full-time varsity.
Morgan Eden, a sophomore, is also listed on the roster.
Bennett said she was pleased with the team’s offseason work and summer play at Edinburgh.
“We have a great group of girls,” said Bennett. “It’s time to use what they worked on all summer, and now it’s time to show what they can do.”
Megan Johannigman will coach the junior varsity squad.
“It’s nice to have her returning to bring experience back,” said Bennett, who noted that four freshmen will play on JV. “That will be a learning experience, but for the most part, the girls have stepped up well.”
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.