Skyline head volleyball coach Summer Younie heads into her 13th season with a virtual blank slate.

Skyline head volleyball coach Summer Younie heads into her 13th season with a virtual blank slate. Six seniors graduated off a team that twice accomplished the HOPL double (winning the league regular season and the league tournament). The squad was 30-8 last year, and was State ranked at times last year before falling in a stacked substate.

But most of those faces have moved on, and a new group of Lady Thunderbirds is going to have to step up. Hitter Alyssa Swonger returns for her senior campaign, and setter Kamryn Stark was a big part of last year’s rotation. But with Jessica DeWeese (leg surgery) not expected back until late in the season if at all, that leaves Coach Younie without much experience returning.

Another issue is smaller numbers this season, as only 14 girls have reported for the team this fall. Coach Younie, along with assistant Natalie King, normally have 20+ girls to work with.

“In the beginning, we are going to miss those girls that graduated, “Younie admitted. “We relied on several of those girls for four years. We don’t have very many coming back that have real varsity experience. It may take us a little while to find our groove. But we are improving each day in practice.”

Betsy Giles and Payje Orler are a couple of upperclassmen that Younie thinks may come into their own this year as they get more playing time. Hannah Baird has been developing well, according to Younie. Bailey DeClue and Katherine Ghumm have been showing some promise also.

One new face that Younie projects as perhaps having an impact is freshman Sydney Koirth.

“We are going to be more athletic than tall,” Younie predicted. “Alyssa (Swonger) is really our only tall girl. But the girls are really scrappy and competitive.”

Younie would not rule out a three-peat of the HOPL double despite the plethora of new Lady T-Birds that will be on the hardwood. “I think we have a chance to do it,” she said. “In the league we’re in, we’re going to be fine.”

“I’m excited about the chance for us to have a new look this season,” Younie contended. “With our lack of size and experience, I’m going to have to get creative with our line-up, and that will be fun.”

“It’s also fun to see girls like Alyssa and Betsy (Giles) developing their leadership skills,” she continued. “They aren’t in anybody’s shadow anymore, and they are starting to become leaders on the floor.”

So despite the lack of numbers, size and experience, it is reasonable to expect that the Lady Thunderbirds will enjoy another fine volleyball campaign in 2014— something they have gotten used to in recent times.