PREP VOLLEYBALL: Bethany Christian, West Noble look to repeat 2018 success

Bethany Christian junior Sadie Brenneman (1) throws her hands to the sky in celebration after scoring a point in set three of the regional semifinal match against Morgan Township in this Oct. 20, 2018 file photo. The Bruins return a lot of varsity experience in 2019 from a team that played in the regional championship game last year.{/span}

GOSHEN — Two teams that played in regional championships a season ago highlight what could be a strong season of volleyball in the area.

Bethany Christian and West Noble played in Class 1A and 3A regional finals, respectively, in 2018, with both teams falling in the title game. The Bruins fell to Pioneer, while the Chargers lost to the eventual state champion, New Castle.

There’s a lot of change at West Noble this season, as their top player from a season ago, Maddie Schermerhorn, is now playing at Purdue. They also have a new head coach, as Chris Cole replaces Kaija Kauffman. Cole has been coaching volleyball for 30 years and is excited to take over a successful program.

“I’m really glad that they’ve been able to achieve some success in these past few years. It just gives me a better standard of excellence to keep the program at,” Cole said when he was hired in March. “I met with the girls and they’re all excited about the prospects of the future … I’m just looking to maintain the success that they’ve had and build on it.”

Meanwhile, Bethany Christian returns most of its roster, including junior Sadie Brenneman. Coach Lois Mast knows finding balance will be the key to the Bruins’ season.

“We are looking forward to a strong returning group. We enter this season with a lot of experience at the net and offensively we will be an exciting team to watch,” Mast said. “Having both a strong defense and offense is clearly the key to success and I think we will play a very strong defensive game as well.”

The Northern Lakes Conference will be tough once again, as Plymouth and Warsaw are the top two teams in the conference. NorthWood returns a lot of experience from a 24-10 regular season, though, and could be a threat to win the conference in 2019.

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN

BETHANY CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Lois Mast

Number of years as head coach: 16

Assistant Coaches: Jes Buller

Previous year’s record: 18-14

Returning letterwinners: Mariah Miller, Jadyn Kaufmann (637 assists in 2018), Eva Sargent (30 block assists in 2018), Sadie Brenneman (340 kills in 2018), Maddie Chupp, Trami Nguyen, Mia Reinhardt

Other varsity candidates: Ana Yoder, Annika Nice, Ivonne Ortiz

CONCORD

Head Coach: Kelly Chupp

Number of years as head coach: 6

Assistant Coaches: Kristy Turner, Chris Knafel, Ashley Plummer-JV, Courtney Harper-JV, Allie Woods-C team

Previous year’s record: 4-27

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Amber Packingham, Olivia House, Lakyra Wagner; Juniors — Madison Jones; Sophomores — Sophia Trout, Ella Norwood, Bailei Mayo

Other varsity candidates: Sophomores — Emma Eakins; Freshmen — Allie Moss, Macie Swineheart

Comments: “We are very excited about this year’s team. We will be athletic but very young. As a staff we’ve been pleased with the growth in understanding a new offensive system. The future of Concord volleyball looks very bright,” coach Chupp said.

FAIRFIELD

Head Coach: Brittany Herschberger

Number of years as head coach: 2

Assistant Coaches: Courtney Herschberger, Jaime Stack, Jon Gawthrop

Previous year’s record: 21-13

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Madeline Gawthrop, Brianna Moreland; Juniors — Kayla Miller, Madisyn Steele; Sophomore — Sydney Stutsman

Other varsity candidates: Seniors — Abby Weaver; Juniors — Carsin Stutzman; Sophomores — Nicole Haldeman, Kate McGuire; Freshmen — Kenlee Gall, Brea Garber, Morgan Gawthrop, Lauren Wuthrich

Comments: “We are looking forward to a great season. The players have been working extremely hard, have great attitudes and are working really well together as a team,” coach Herschberger said. “We have big goals and are willing to put the work in to achieve them.”

GOSHEN

Head Coach: Doug West

Number of years as head coach: 1

Assistant Coaches: Kelly Kissinger, Jude Barger, Alicia Hofer, and Shawn Gordon.

Previous year’s record: 23-10

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Sage Christner, Haylie Bontrager, Sofia Bontrager, Liz Kirkton, Sophie Kirkton; Juniors — Brynn Shoup-Hill, Megan Gallagher, Katherine Detweiler

Other varsity candidates: Junior — Sasha Ramos; Sophomores — Makayla Caprarotta, Abby Wileman, Maddie Garber; Freshmen — Sarah Harmelink, Delaney Ford

Comments: “We compete in the Northern Lakes Conference and we host the IHSAA sectional this season. Our goals are to do whatever it takes in terms of our skills, work ethic, and overall team energy to put ourselves in a position to win conference matches, win sectional matches, and compete at the highest level this coming season,” coach West said. “Our players are a pleasure to coach; top quality players who work hard and are good young ladies.”

LAKELAND

Head Coach: Brian Jordan

Number of years as head coach: 2

Assistant Coaches: Melissa Gales, Shelly Brill

Previous year’s record: 5-17

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Jennifer West, Jordan Bontrager, Lauren Christie; Juniors — Bailey Hartsough, Lilly Baird; Sophomores — Kylie Bowling, Kelsie Bowling

Other varsity candidates: Seniors — Hannah Harris; Juniors — Kendall Moore; Lilly Schackow; Freshmen — Faith Reihl, Justice Haston

Comments: “I am looking for a great season here at Lakeland Volleyball,” coach Jordan said. “We have some strong freshmen coming up and will be a good additive to the program. We will have a great season; I am sure of that.”

NORTHRIDGE

Head Coach: Jodie Steele

Number of years as head coach: 12

Assistant Coaches: Taeja Davis and Blair Carlstrom

Previous year’s record: 9-24

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Molly Brown, Kayleigh Miller, Makenna Myers, Holly Stutzman; Juniors — Maddie Bender, Brynne Gayler, Makena Knepp; Sophomore — Abby Martin

Other varsity candidates: Juniors — Rylee Floyd, Hannah Gorden, Kacie Mohan, Mia Stallman; Freshman — Gia Rowan

Comments: “This group has really come together and are getting better as a team,” coach Steele said. “The focus and intensity in the gym are at an all-time high. We are really excited about the upcoming season.”

NORTHWOOD

Head Coach: Hilary Laidig

Number of years as head coach: 11

Assistant Coaches: Mark Heeter, Carrie O’Keefe, Audrey Duncan, Ashley Ramirez

Previous year’s record: 24-10

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Maddy Payne (309 kills, 82 blocks in 2018), Kate Rulli (207 kills, 69 blocks in 2018), Caroline Mullet (867 assists in 2018), Grace Kniesly; Juniors — Alea Minnich, Ali Knepp, Kendal Miller, Kennedy Hochstetler, Bre Wise

Other varsity candidates: Seniors — Gracie Clark; Sophomores — Annika Bennett, Alana Lehman; Freshman — Macy Lengacher

Comments: “We are excited to return most of our starting lineup from the previous season,” coach Laidig said. “We are hoping to see improvements in all of our girls! They are a great group of girls who have a strong competitive edge!”

WAWASEE

Head Coach: Jeff Phillips

Number of years as head coach: 1

Assistant Coaches: Natalie Decker, Briana Foster

Previous year’s record: 13-19

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Elizabeth Kloepfer, Molly Jones, Madison Simmons, Ella Williamson, Ashley Vazquez; Juniors — Ava Rush

Other varsity candidates: Seniors —Aundreya Wegener; Juniors — Emma Dippon, Corin Nyce, Delaney Hare; Sophomores — Kai Jamora, Leslie Vazquez, Dylan Konieczny, Clara Kerlin

Comments: “This is a team that will surprise people with a solid core of returning upperclassmen and a strong group of young players who will contribute significantly,” coach Phillips said. “They have worked extremely hard all summer implementing new philosophies and have bought in to the changes. I look forward to the growth of this team throughout the season.”

WEST NOBLE

Head Coach: Chris Cole

Number of years as head coach: 1

Assistant Coaches: Haley Richardson, Allison Meade and Bill Lucas

Previous year’s record: 29-6

Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Madelyn Bradley, Beatrice Hasting, Jenna Hutsell, Kristina Teel; Juniors — Taytlynn Forrer, Lillian Mast, Nichelle Phares

Other varsity candidates: Senior — Madison Doege; Juniors — Lauren Baker, Riley Champion; Sophomores — Carolina Flores, Dana Ritchie.

Comments: “The 2019 campaign will be the first chapter in continuing the success that the volleyball program has had in recent years. Giving an opportunity for returning and new members of the varsity and JV squads to carve a new path to the program’s success,” coach Cole said. “Led by the leadership of senior setter Kristina Teel and junior middle blocker Nichelle Phares, I am confident that West Noble can be in the hunt for another Sectional tile. With the hard work and dedication to learning new techniques and style of play throughout the program, West Noble will be a name mentioned every year as contenders.”

WESTVIEW

Head Coach: Andrea Welsh

Number of years as head coach: 2

Assistant Coaches: Kaija Kauffman, Kaity Logan

Previous year’s record: 19-17

Returning letterwinners: Senior — Payton May (425 kills in 2018); Juniors — Gloria Miller (355 kills in 2018), Hallie Mast, Abby Welsh, Kelsey Rich; Sophomore — Allie Springer

Other varsity candidates: Freshmen — Kate Welsh, Bri Caldwell, Lucy Rensberger

Comments: “We have a young team this year and have very few players with a considerable amount of varsity experience,” coach Welsh said. “However, we have two key leaders that are an offensive and defensive threat all around the court that are working hard to bring them up to speed.”

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