By ADAM PRESSWOOD
Winfield’s volleyball program has seen a greater influx of new athletes and new interest than at any time in recent memory.
That influx has left head coach Brian Hawkins with a team composed of 23 underclassmen and only five upperclassmen, which means the future of the program is sound.
“We lost some seniors, and we’re trying to find some players to fill those spots,” said Hawkins. “The good thing is that the numbers we ended up with this season provided us with a lot of very good candidates who are all working hard.”
Hawkins is in his second year of coaching at Winfield, but this will be his first year as head coach.
He grew up in the St. Louis area, and played high school volleyball for the Pattonville School District in Bridgeton before moving on to play club ball while he was a college student at Truman State University in Kirksville.
“I’m still playing as an adult,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins said he is excited about the upcoming year, and thinks the talent he will have to work with could easily net the team a perfect record.
“I think it’s going to be an awesome season, and I’m looking to take all 17 games,” said Hawkins. “We lost six or seven games last season, but those losses were to teams we should have beaten. We were within one or two points. This year we’re going to focus on some different plays and different techniques that I hope will make all the difference.”
Hawkins said his varsity squad of eight to ten players this season will be a team that talks and communicates.
“We’re going to make sure that everyone on the court knows what we’re doing at all times,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins said he expects the team’s toughest competition this year to come from Warrenton and from Christian High School.
“Warrenton has an outside that nobody can stop, and Christian High School has a whole bunch of girls that can pass just about anything that comes over the net,” said Hawkins.
The team’s biggest challenge, however, will come from within.
“We’re a vertically-challenged team right now,” said Hawkins. “The height just isn’t there. Fortunately, I think we can make up for it by being a hard-hitting team.”
The team will play its first game on the road on Aug. 30 against Bowling Green at 6 p.m.
That will be a non-conference match-up.