SEBRING — A talented and experienced Sebring High School volleyball team is focused on reaching its potential this season.
The Blue Streaks have been working hard in practice under the watchful eye of veteran coach Venessa Sinness who likes what she has seen so far.
“I have a funny feeling,” Sinness said. “These girls are going to surprise people. We are not very big but we are really quick and we play really good defense.”
Sebring, which lost in the Class 5A-District 11 finals last year to rival Lemon Bay, has eight returning players, four of which are seniors who are starters this year.
Three of those seniors are team captains. Quite a few of the girls returning are in key positions such as the middle hitter. The Blue Streaks are also deep at outside hitter, but are looking to fill the crucial setter position.
“Our hitters are really good at hitting positions,” Sinness said. “We just don’t swing at the ball, we are really working on the spots, hitting line, and hitting cross-court those kind of things. I think we are going to bring some hits this year.”
Sebring’s five seniors are captains Sam Allison, Hannah Gotsch and Caylin Webb, along with Kylie Bowers and Hannah Tucker.
“I have three captains but I have five seniors this year,” Sinness said. “Even though my three captains are seniors, all five of my seniors are leaders out there. I know it sounds weird to have five leaders, some years you don’t have any leaders, but this is a really great group of senior girls that work really well together. My seniors will take the girls a lot further than we have in the past.”
Team chemistry and unity looks to be a plus this season for the Blue Streaks.
“Things are going good and we have a lot of talent and a lot of returning players,” said Allison. “We have a lot of chemistry. There are a lot of older players and we have been playing together since the beginning. I think that will help us a lot because the other teams don’t have that.”
There are a few players who have surprised Sinness with their effort in practice.
Cadie O’Hern is back this year. She was a freshman who was on the varsity team last year. O’Hern will be starting again in the middle hitter position this year.
“I see really big things from Cadie,” the Blue Streak coach said.
Another sophomore player who is showing great potential is Hannah Kaszubowski
Kaszubowski is going to play a key role on the right side as a blocker.
O’Hern and Kaszubowski are the youngest players on the squad, but are expected to contribute.
Finding the right setter will be key to any success the Blue Streaks have this season.
“I have two setters who are working really hard in Kylie Bowers and Kiersten McSheffery,” said Sinness. “We have big hitters but if you can’t give them a set it doesn’t really matter how good they can swing.”
Sebring is aiming to be District 11 champions this year. Last year they fell short in the district playoffs losing to Lemon Bay in five grueling sets.
DeSoto and Hardee round out the other teams in a very competitive District 11. The Blue Streaks hope this year is their time to shine on the court.
“There are strong teams in our district and our girls say they want it this year,” Sinness said. “We have to finish strong. We have the ability to beat the other teams. Just like us they had great players graduate. It comes down to how everyone shapes up as the season goes on and who finishes the strongest.”
Sebring opens its schedule with the Preseason Classic on Aug. 19. The Blue Streaks take on Frostproof in the second match of the night after Avon Park and Lake Placid play in the first game.
The two-day tournament concludes on Aug. 21.
“We’re looking forward to playing against other teams and see how we stack up,” Sinness said. “This is a special group of girls and we’re looking forward to a fun and special season.”