LAUREL HILL — For the fourth consecutive season, there will be a new coach leading Laurel Hill School’s volleyball team. However, this one has a familiar face and plenty of coaching experience at Laurel Hill.
Four years ago, Hobo head boys basketball coach and athletic director Kent Zessin stepped away from the volleyball job after 11 years on the sidelines. Since his departure, the position has been the proverbial revolving door.
When Ashley Miller, who coached the team last year, had to step down, Zessin was ready to answer the call and return to volleyball.
"Once coach Miller told me over the summer she had decided to step down because of health reasons, it kind of put me in a situation to try and go out and find a volleyball coach for the fourth year in a row," Zessin said. "Because my daughter, Bridget, is playing and is junior, I had an interest in coming back out and trying to get through a couple of years with her and hopefully let her have some success in this sport and enjoy it."
Zessin said he had mixed emotions when he stepped away from the volleyball team four years ago. A part of him wanted to stay with the team, but another part knew he needed to spend time with a young boys basketball team.
"In the 11 years of coaching volleyball, it's something that has grown on me and I've enjoyed working with the girls," he said. "We've got a nice club and we've got a bunch of good girls. It's a bunch of good girls not only on the court, but in the classroom and in the community.
"They are just good-hearted girls. And that makes it easy for a coach to say, 'Yes, I want to come back.'"
Zessin credits Miller for the work she did in teaching the players the game last year. He said she did a good job of teaching the fundamentals.
A team that is sound fundamentally and has some nice talent too could as the Hoboes do, could make give people problems this year.
A pair of 6-footers, senior Jhanea Griffin and freshman Kaylee L'Homme, will present problems to most 1A teams. Griffin and L'Homme will be joined at hitter by Zessin and Lauren Gordon.
Breanna Trunk and Morgan Meeks will be the setters. Ashley Hatfield and Chloe Talaric also will see plenty of playing time.
Laurel Hill will play in the newly aligned District 1-1A with Central and Bethlehem.
If the Hoboes can end the regular season as the top seed in the district, they will assure themselves a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
The automatic playoffs spot makes earning that No. 1 seed that much more important.
"Your goal is to make it to the state playoffs," Zessin said. "And our goal is to win district actually. But being that No. 1 seed would eliminate one of those goals (making the playoffs) right off the bat, without even stepping on the court, and that makes it nice."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.