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Lady Rams Feel Growing Pains

Three letterwinners return to lead the Wyalusing Valley High School volleyball team in the 2004 season. They are, from left, Debi Blair, Renee Casselbury and Katie Doss. The Lady Rams open the season on Saturday against Lackawanna Trail.

Wyalusing Valley volleyball coach Dave Holdredge has no illusions.

After seeing six players graduate from a 10-11 team last season, Holdredge, now entering his third year as head coach, realizes that 2004 will be a rebuilding year.

With only three returning varsity lettermen—seniors Debi Blair and Renee Casselbury and junior Katie Doss—there isn't much experience on the roster.

"We're going to struggle all season," Holdredge admitted. "We have a lot of young girls with no or little experience."

Of the three letterwinners, Doss saw the most playing time last year. In 2003, she was credited with 42 kills, 23 assists and nine blocks.

Rounding out the varsity roster are seniors Amy Askew, Catelyn Bulick and Kayla Newhart; juniors Erica Casselbury, Emma Conklin and Lindsey Rivera and sophomores Sammy Jo Baker and Arkadia Jayne.

Holdredge likes his team's athleticism and attitude.

"We have a really good group of girls," he said. "The team dynamic is good. They're coachable and want to work hard.

"They have heart which means a lot in any sport."

He just hopes that the inevitable growing pains won't prove discouraging.

"Young girls see a season as just wins and losses," he said.

The team needs to look at developing its skills and not worry about the record, he explained.

Still, he hopes to be a thorn in the side of all his opponents.

"With every team we play, I want to make a match of it. Win or lose, I want to give them a game."

In the Northern Tier League, he expects perennial contenders Towanda and Troy to compete for the championship.

A couple of teams in the league also suffered heavy losses to graduation, and he is hopeful that may open the door for the Lady Rams to grab some wins.

Part of the team's problem stemmed from the lack of a junior high program in the past.

That was rectified with the creation of a junior high squad, under veteran coach Bill Lutz.

According to Holdredge, the turnout for the feeder program was satisfactory with between 25 to 30 girls practicing.

Holdredge will be assisted this year by Jeff Overman, who came on board to fill the vacant junior varsity position just last week. Becky Clouse is also expected to help out as a volunteer.

The Lady Rams open the season on Saturday, Sept. 4 with a home game against Lackawanna Trail. The junior varsity start will be 9 a.m.

The remainder of the non-NTL East schedule includes games with Elk Lake, Elkland, Williamson, Cowanesque Valley, Liberty and Wellsboro.

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