IF THERE’S all-encompassing term that can sum-up the East Jackson volleyball program this year, it’s “transition.”
As the Eagles move to a new area of competition (6-AAA), they’ll do so after some assistant coaching changes and personnel losses.
“Our volleyball program has seen a lot of changes since the last time we played back in October,” said fifth-year coach Tim Thomas.
East Jackson, coming off an 8-20 season a year ago, will face an Area 6-AAA schedule that will include rival Jackson County, Oconee County, Morgan County, Hart County and North Oconee.
Thomas and company will navigate the new schedule minus assistant coach Cheryl Poponi. Poponi took an administrative position last year and tried to juggle that and the coaching, “but it wore her pretty thin,” Thomas said. “I’m really going to miss having her input. We worked very well together.”
As for the depth chart, most of last year’s varsity squad is gone due to graduation and moves. In fact, the Eagles are left with just two starters from last year’s squad.
“The upside is that those two are among the best we’ve ever had,” Thomas said.
Those players are Rosie Melendez (senior) and Madison Mealor (junior).
“Both of them made big contributions to the team last year, and we’re looking for a lot of good things out of them this year,” Thomas said.
Thomas called Melendez “one of those old-school athletes.”
“She works hard and has the heart of a competitor,” he said. “She can play just about any position in the game, and probably will this year.”
Meanwhile, Mealor enters her second year with the program after transferring to East Jackson last year and will assume a leadership role along with Melendez.
“Madison has developed into a very good middle hitter and blocker, and both of these girls are great team leaders — not just quality athletes, but quality students and quality individuals,” Thomas said.
Filling out the rest of the roster will be an on-going process, however, as East Jackson has players with varying degrees of experience. Thomas said the program will need several subvarsity players elevate their games for the Eagles to handle the attrition.
“You don’t just go out and find some warm bodies to replace the athletes we lost from last year’s team; we need a lot of last year’s JV players to really step their games up this year and give us more than just those two returning options for scoring points,” Thomas said.
To that end, several players have stood out this summer. Club-ball player Reagan Robach (sophomore) is much-improved, Thomas said, while the Eagles have a cluster of experienced juniors — Angela Hulsey, Samantha Rholetter, Bree Melendez and Chakayla Green.
“We have a few other sophomores who have a shot as well, and we even have a couple of freshmen who have an outside chance to make the team,” Thomas said. “But that’s the kind of thing you expect when you have as many spots to fill as we do.”
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The author does not allow comments to this entry