Lady Sequoits have a new look on the court
“I am incredibly optimistic for this season, as we have three to four players in each position who could start in any game making our depth on this team very impressive.” ~ Girls volleyball head coach Jamie Atkinson
By Todd Rohde~SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
When the Antioch girls’ volleyball team begins the season, they will have a new look both on the court and on the sidelines. That’s because the Lady Sequoits will be under the leadership of a new head coach as well as having some different faces in the lineup.
Jamie Atkinson, who is in her eighth season within the program and who was last year’s JV coach, will begin her first year as the team’s head coach. She takes over for Glen Heitman, who stepped down after serving six years at the helm of the girls’ team and 12th overall at Antioch.
Atkinson will attain a program that sits in pretty good shape, as they are coming off of a season in which they were fairly successful. The Lady Sequoits are also returning several players with a good deal of playing experience and leadership from a year ago.
Antioch finished with a 20-16 overall record in total matches played last season and were 3-3 in North Suburban Conference play, as they fell to crosstown rival in Lakes Area in the regional semifinals. The Sequoits will have just three spots to fill, after losing Abbi McIlhany, Ashlee Briggs and Linnea Lubkeman to graduation.
“I am incredibly optimistic for this season, as we have three to four players in each position who could start in any game making our depth on this team very impressive,” stated Atkinson. “The girls have been working hard for the past few years and I believe this will be the season that it all pays off.”
On the bright side of things, the Sequoits will feature 15 athletes out for the varsity program including several returning letter winners. The team consists of six seniors and nine juniors, as no team captains have been selected as of yet.
Antioch will be led by the likes of returning starting players in Samantha Falco, Marissa Grant, Madeline Johnson and Elena Kelsh. Falco is a senior right-side/middle hitter and Grant comes back as a junior setter, while Johnson and Kelsh are senior outside hitters for the Sequoits.
The strengths of the team this year will be in the overall depth at several positions as well as the leadership and experience of the returning players. The Sequoits are focusing on being consistent, playing together and being confident in their abilities as well as those around them.
Antioch’s goals are to continue to improve and get stronger as the season progresses, be competitive within the conference and advance as far as possible into the postseason tournament. They hope to accomplish this by running a fast-paced offense and being able to stay aggressive on the defensive side of things.
Antioch is striving towards being in the running for a conference title with the likes of teams such as Lakes, Wauconda and Vernon Hills. They also expect their crossover matches with the other side of the conference to be very challenging and beneficial in a good way.
The Sequoits began practicing Aug. 15th and so far things have been going quite well. The girls worked hard over the summer on improving their skills, as well as lifting weights and improving their speed.
“The team focus has been on blocking and running a fast-paced offense out of service receive,” said Atkinson. “The girls have recognized their talent and are starting to figure out that if they work together, even through adversity, they will be successful.”
Atkinson will have Tara Heitman as her varsity assistant coach, while Molly May is the JV coach and Tony Losinger will serve as the freshman leader.