With a talented and experienced senior class, the Lady Buccs have their goals set as high as ever before.
Covington Lady Buccs' head volleyball coach Stephanie Robinson is excited about the 2006 season, and with good reason. She enters the campaign with the most experienced team she has had entering her fourth year as varsity coach.
"Everyone is back, which really excites me about our chances," said Robinson. "Most of the girls already have two and three years of varsity experience, so we should have a good year."
Although excited, Robinson also knows it takes more than experience to become successful. It takes the intangibles this same group lacked a year ago in compiling a 10-13 record and early exit in the second game of the sectionals.
"I feel we were just as athletic and talented last year as we are now," Robinson described. "But, the two things that prevented us from succeeding were a lack of chemistry and consistency. We lost a lot of close games because we didn't rally around each other when things went wrong. This led to stretches of inconsistency."
To address the team's chemistry issues, Robinson scheduled three camps over the summer...one as far as Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"The Milwaukee trip was important because it allowed us to be together as a team without any distractions," Robinson said. "I took the girls to my old high school (Pius XI), which has a tradition of winning state championships and being nationally ranked. Coach Dave Scher has been at Pius for 18 years and has won 8 state title and 2 runner-up trophies. He knows how to win championships. I wanted the girls to see first hand what it takes."
The results from the camps have been positive thus far, although the season is still over a week away.
"Sometimes you can say something over and over, but the girls don't respond," said Robinson. "When someone like Coach Scher or coach (Michele) Beniot of Mount St. Joseph says the same thing after a few hours in the gym, the girls finally understand they need to develop team chemistry. They're now more receptive and aware of the situation."
Should Covington develop team chemistry and play a consistent brand of volleyball, the talent on the roster is capable enough to win a conference title and make a deeper run in the state tournament.
Six seniors return with Alex Christian entering her fourth year at the varsity level. This will be the third year on varsity for Meredith Tobias, LauriKate Bayman, Laynie Fulks, Ashley Angle and Michelle Barhorst.
"The seniors have to lead by example and provide strong leadership," Robinson said. "It's intangeables...hustling every minute in practice and in games, communicating on and off the floor and encouraging each other. Some of the younger players may be on the floor more than last year, so the seniors will have to bond with them."
Four juniors return with Erin Christian the lone returning starter. Jessica Snipes, Amanda Sprankle and Kailey Tobias each saw action at the varsity level last year as well.
Sophomore Holly Tobias returns after starting as a freshman, while Krissi Tobias makes the leap to the varsity level after a year on junior varsity.
The only freshman to crack the varsity unit is Alyssa Angle, the sister of Ashley.
With all the experience and talent, the 2006 Lady Buccs are capable of leaving their mark on the history of Covington volleyball. It all comes down to the two elements missing from a year ago.
"I want the girls to set their goals very high...higher than ever before," Robinson concluded. "We know how to play and are able to play very, very well. All we need to do is come together as a team and have fun playing together."