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Lady Devils hope to serve up success

It is all about moving forward for the Unicoi County High School Lady Devil volleyball program.
The squad enters the 2014 season under new head coach Frank Forsythe, who assumes the reins from former head coach Junia Gindlesperger, ready to embark on their stint inside the Three Rivers Conference.
“They are really good girls and they are working hard,” Forsythe said. “We’re peeking and we’re looking forward to a successful season. They’ve been open to new ideas, techniques and have strived to become better volleyball players.”
UCHS boasts five seniors this season with a handful of underclassmen looking to see some time at the varsity level. The team is led by their own form of ‘twin towers’ in the middle.
“We’ve got some really powerful girls in the middle,” Forsythe said. “Destinie Hayes and Victoria Bailey … kind of called them our ‘twin towers’, they’re really dominate players for us. With our offense, we like to go to the middle in transition. “
And the senior duo know the team has the stuff to make some noise this season.
“I think we’re going to be a tough team,” Bailey said. “I think we’ll work together and be good this season.”
Hayes, who’ll serve as the other middle hitter, enters the year after an all-conference nod last season.
“I feel like we’ve worked really hard this summer,” she said. “The coaching change affected us a little, but he’s helped us a lot so we should be good this season.”
The netters have also seen some offensive players step up around the court.
“Sophomore Keelie Hall has become a real dominant outside hitter and we’re looking to share the setting duties between senior Brittnie Rice and junior Laura Rogers,” Forsythe said. “They’ll share the setting duties for now but we may also look at going to a 5-1 offense with just one setter.
“There are pros and cons to each type of offense,” he added. “We’re going to start a 6-2 to start with, then see how things go from there.”
Hall and Hannah Keasling with see team as outside hitters.
“We’ve practiced a lot in the summer,” Hall said. I’m looking forward to this season.”
A lot of work has been put in, according Keasling, mentioning “I can’t wait to see where it takes us.”
Senior Haley Webb, who’ll hold down the defensive duties at libero, seconded her teammate’s sentiments.
“We worked really hard this summer,” Webb said, “and I’m excited about the upcoming season.”
“We haven’t got to do a lot since we had a coaching change in the summer, but what we got to do …,” Rice added. “I’m very excited about and I can’t wait to see what happens. I love my team.”
Rogers added to the element of the quick, busy summer with the coaching transition.
“The practices were intense,” she said. “I think we can step it up and the season will be great.”
After multiple head coaches in recent years, the team looks to have found stability with Forsythe.
“The seniors, and everyone in general, have been very positive about having a new coach,” he said. “I know they’ve had a lot of coaches throughout their career and I don’t sense any kind of discouragement or anything. They’ve been very receptive, they have great attitudes and I’m very happy with our progress so far.
“I have high expectations,” he continued. “They are at a good spot for where we are at. We still have some hurdles to get over and we have another week-and-a-half before the start of the season so we’ll work to keep working hard to strive to be the best we can be.”
The girls have a loaded schedule this season and the experience will only spearhead things in the right direction, Forsythe added.
“We started off scrimmaging Science Hill early on and they have a high-flying offense,” he said. “We’re not where we want to be but we’re better than we were before.
“The skills are there but our biggest thing to work on is intensity. I’m encouraging leaders to step forward and lead by example.”
The varsity team will be comprised of: Bailey, Hayes, Keasling, Rice, Webb, Rogers, Hall, Alex Lamie, Ashlie Padgett, Haley Peterson, Ashleigh Edwards, Alex Peterson, Stephanie Wisse and Kenedy King.
UCHS participated in the TRC jamboree hosted on Tuesday, Aug. 12, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline. The Lady Devils open the season on Aug. 19 at Sullivan Central before competing in a tournament hosted that weekend at Elizabethton.