BOURBON – The antennas are now focused. Triton just needs to get the color to come through the set.
Much like a TV from back in the day, Triton volleyball has gotten the static off its screen, but just needs to get all the color to show. Separating metaphor from reality, Triton head coach Samantha Keel wants her team to show a little fire and become more than just a good team with potential.
“The teams we get beat by are much bigger than us,” started Keel during a lull in preseason practice, looking at the wall with the Northern State Conference teams painted over the court. “The teams that got us early made us look bad, but we caught up with some teams later, like Jimtown and Bremen.”
Keel’s preseason goal for 2012 was to finish fourth or higher in the Northern State Conference, to which the team didn’t quite achieve. But the season wasn’t a wash as Triton more than doubled its win total from five to 12, and nearly won a sectional title, losing to Michigan City Marquette in the final. The loss still stings for Keel, who was a member of the last sectional title team at Triton in 2002, but her confidence in this group in 2013 is overflowing.
“Our goal this season is to finish third or higher in the NSC, and while that’s a little lofty, I think we can do it,” said an emphatic Keel. “We are going to surprise a few teams. I really think we are going to go after some teams that have had their ways with us. And I’m looking directly at some of them in our conference.”
The task for a team without much postseason success is even more daunting considering the team loses a pair of super-talented players in Shana Anderson and Breanna Lemler as well as the abilities of Marissa Ross to graduation. Anderson and Lemler paced the team in 2012 in just about every statistical category, leaving the voids for the 2013 group an open invitation to step forward, according to Keel.
“I really think we have a lot of girls who are ready to step up and make a name for themselves as leaders,” Keel said. “The dynamic of the girls is much different, I feel, because they are all friends off the court. We don’t have a lot of complaining at practice, not a lot of whining. They are working their butts off to be better. And some of them have to.”
Keel points to a few players that should step in right away and impact, notably senior Emily Koontz and junior Krystal Sellers as outside hitters. Junior Becca Kennedy should also find time on the outside, while junior move-in Lauren Hostrawser and sophomore Jaela Meister should man the middle with a lot of confidence. Senior Casey Scott will serve as the libero, who Keel said is a great commander and states senior setter Holly Stogsdill is, “as good as anyone I have ever coached. She sees the court so well and is volleyball smart. Her biggest asset this year will be to attack the other side of the net where the defenders aren’t at.”
Triton opens its march on Aug. 22 with a home date against sectional opponent Oregon-Davis, the namesake of the drill Triton ends every practice with each day. “We have to take our first opponent seriously, and we can’t expect to steamroll anyone or think they are going to do the same to us. It starts with us and ends with us.”