Since winning its last Greater Miami Conference title in 2008 and graduating seven seniors, members of the Lakota East varsity girls’ volleyball squad and others in the conference have considered the Thunderhawks to be underdogs because of their youth.
This year’s squad returns 11 student athletes, who were on the 2010 team, which advanced all the way to the final 16 in the state tournament last November.
“We have always been the underdog because we have always been told that we are too young,” senior setter Hannah Berling said. “We have a huge junior and senior class, but when we were freshmen and sophomores we were the babies, but now we won’t have that excuse anymore.”
Berling, who led the Thunderhawks and was sixth in the GMC in assists in 2010 with 519, is among six seniors who will be featured on the 2011 varsity roster, according to second-year head coach Casie Garland. Other seniors, who were also on last year’s roster include Hannah Sigala, who is committed to play at Morehead State University, Lauren Beitel, Morgan Weinheimer and Emily Bostian.
Meanwhile, the junior class is led by Ali Lake (photo – click to enlarge), who is committed to Ohio University, and Ashley Evans, who is committed to Purdue University.
“Ashley is probably the most versatile player in the state. She can play anywhere. She is going to Purdue to set and she hasn’t even set for me yet and I am not sure if I am going to use her at setter or not yet,” Garland said.
“She is a big part of our team, but not the only part. We have a lot of great players. We are three deep at every position … I think that will be our biggest asset because you will never know who will be on the floor.”
Likely to be on the floor the majority of the time, Berling hopes that her team’s talent doesn’t make them too complacent.
“We do have big goals this season, but we have to take it game-by-game. We can’t let the talent go to our heads,” Berling said. “We have to act like we are the underdogs still.”
The Thunderhawks will begin their season at home in tri with Tippacanoe and Turpin Aug. 27 at 10 a.m.