2019 season preview: Head coach Karen Jackson begins her 14th season in charge with only one returning starters, few with varsity-level experience

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — A 2019 Chillicothe High School volleyball varsity team with very limited experience takes the court for the first time tonight, hosting Trenton in non-conference play. A 5 p.m. freshman match is slated to begin the action at 5 p.m., followed by junior-varsity and varsity competition.
Coming off a 9-16-1 season which featured predominantly senior usage, this fall’s CHS squad – with junior Maya Snyder as the only returning starter and a few others with some relatively-minimal varsity experience – figures to have an uphill battle to even equal that mark, Lady Hornets coach Karen Jackson concedes as her 14th season in charge starts.
“The biggest challenge we will face this year is our inexperience. We are extremely young and have a lot of girls that have not played at the varsity level,” she states.
While the 5’9” Snyder had some strong nights as an outside hitter last season – topped by a 6-kills night in a home win over tonight’s opponent, she was not the focal point of the net attack. Now, she will be, meaning opponents will be ready with double-team block attempts on many of her spike tries.
According to Jackson, joining Snyder in the front-row rotation will be juniors Ella Leamer and Lucy Gaston and sophomores Essie Hicks and Clara Leamer, and freshman Izzy Montgomery.
Senior Shawna Coplen, who has some of the most-extensive experience besides Snyder, is the top libero (back-row only player), a spot she handled on occasion in 2018.
Junior Haylee Coplen and sophomore Selby Miller are likely to handle the key setter’s role in alternation, the coach reports. H. Coplen got in very, very limited varsity action a year ago and Miller none.
“We only have two seniors on the team, so the youth on our team will have to learn quickly,” asserts the CHS coach.
Despite the inexperience, many of this year’s mostly-underclass Lady Hornets had success on the court on the junior-high level and many of the sophomores played junior-varsity last year, so the talent level might be there for some quick growth.
That figures to be especially needed in Midland Empire Conference, since last year’s taller, senior-laden team produced only a 1-6 MEC mark.
Jackson thinks such improvement is possible.
“We have improved all summer long and I look for us to continue that throughout the year,” she says.