Second year head volleyball coach, Kristin Hendrich, hopes to lead her South Putnam volleyball team to another great season. She has several returning players and she believes that will be beneficial to the team this season.
“Overall, I was pleased (with last season),” Hendrich said. “We didn’t have as much success as I would have liked to have had, but I was pleased overall. For the girls, that was my first year coaching and their third coach in three years. I think we did a lot better than they would have expected us to. Hopefully this year we will have some more success.”
The girls have had a couple weeks of practice and Hendrich is already seeing improvements. She feels her team is more consistent in their playing and she feels that part of that comes from the consistency in coaching. For the older girls it is nice to see a coach come back for continuous years, especially for the seniors.
“I think the girls are just playing better,” Hendrich said of her team. “We were young last year and I think the girls have a lot more confidence. Since they have me here again, I think the consistency has helped them.”
Hendrich noted how her team is becoming full of leaders. With another year of experience behind them, they are becoming more confident in their decisions and they are not afraid to step up. Even players that are not as vocal are still leading by example.
“I think people are stepping up to be leaders,” Hendrich said. “They’re not afraid of trying new things and they’re not playing as timid as they were last year. We’re just being more aggressive this year.”
The two seniors coming back are Blaze Bottorff and Katie Hewitt. Another senior is Madison Plunkett with this being her first year.
“Blaze Bottorff and Katie Hewitt both got voted to be our team captains,” Hendrich said. “We are going to rely heavily on them. So far, they’ve been really good leaders. They’re not quite as vocal, but they lead by example. Then I have Madison Plunkett, who has never played, but she is doing a tremendous job so far. I’m really pushing my seniors to step up and be more vocal leaders this year.”
South Putnam will have some size on their team this year, especially with Hewitt and Plunkett. With many players returning, they are expected to grow over the summer and Hendrich believed that happened. They still lack size in some areas, though.
“We’re actually a little bit taller this year,” Hendrich said. “I think they just grew. One of my middle players is actually five-six, so she’s not all that tall but she’s got some ups. I can always use some more height, but we’re really athletic and agile. I think it’s kind of a trade-off, but it works out.”
The Eagles first game is August 18 at West Vigo. The hopes are that every game will be their worst game of the season, meaning that they always improve, so when sectionals come around they will have all of their mistakes out of the way.
“They’re (West Vigo) always really good,” Hendrich said. “We played them in a tournament last year. I told the girls I hope that every game we play is the worst game of the year, so we just get better and better. It will help us work out some kinks. We had a scrimmage last week, but we really didn’t get to warm up, so first impression wasn’t all that great. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a good starting spot for us.”
West Vigo is apart of the new Western Indiana Conference that South Putnam joined as well as many other teams. Hendrich said she is a little “uneasy” about it because she has never seen some of the teams before. She thinks it will be a great challenge, though.
“I’m a little bit uneasy about it,” Hendrich said. “I don’t know what to expect. We have a lot of road games this year, so I’m just hoping the girls will do well. I think there is something like 13 away games. I just hope they don’t get worn out too much. I’m going to try and give them breaks whenever I can.”
South Putnam hosts a tournament the first weekend of the season. Having that early tournament experience could help them down the line when they play in the county tournament and the cross-over match.
“It’s really good for us because we get to play four games,” Hendrich said. “We kind of get some jitters out because last year we had a really hard time with being so nervous. To play a lot right from the beginning will be good for us.”
For a full schedule and to see the rigorous road games check out sputnamathletics.com.