By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Coach Porter Era has been good at Tipton-Rosemark Academy the first two years.
Since Wendy Porter’s arrival on campus, the Lady Rebels have enjoyed some postseason success, winning records and Porter even has a Coach of the Year plaque to show for it.
Entering year three, Porter faces the challenge of fielding a youthful six on the volleyball court.
“We’re really young,” she acknowledged. “We have three returning varsity players. And two of those played all the way around and one didn’t. There have been some changes in that.
“We’ve got a good freshmen class coming up,” Porter added. “We’ll have some talent there. On varsity we’ll have two freshmen, three sophomores and two seniors.”
The trio of seniors will be Bethany Berger, Jordyn Thornell and Madison Cranford. Berger and Thornell lodged several minutes last season among a lineup featuring Jackie Kuykendall, Kendall Seering, Sara Hall and Asante Lopez.
Since those players have departed through graduation and transfer, the bulk of the preseason leadership role has fallen on Berger and Thornell.
“They’re carrying the team right now as far as leadership goes and knowing what to expect,” Porter said. “They are able to read the court better than the younger girls right now. They’ve been able to coach and running some drills.”
Berger and Thornell are assisting freshmen like Haley Ramsey and Molly Ward into the transition of varsity volleyball. Porter noted Ramsey will see time as an outside hitter and setter. Ward will be a powerful right-side hitter.
The freshman duo will be a part of the eight-player rotation for the Lady Rebels.
“We’ve pretty much have our lineup,” Porter said. “I pretty much don’t have a bench. So everybody on the floor will have a role at some point. I’ll have eight people on the roster and all eight will see the court.”
That group will face a tough league featuring favorites like ECS, Harding and St. George’s.
“If we’re not in the top 5, I will be surprised,” Porter said. “People are going to underestimate us losing Kendal,
Asante, Jackie and Sarah. I think they’re going to be a little surprised.
“They’re not going to expect us to be as strong as I think we’re going to be,” she concluded. “We’ve still got to step up like our hitters and really just pound that front line. And we do have a pretty solid defense.”