EATON — Eaton High School’s volleyball program has the size and depth to have a great fall campaign, but head coach Parker Fields isn’t ready to declare his team as favorites for a league championship — or any kind of championship for that matter.
When asked what the goals of the team were, Fields simply responded, “To get better every day, to stay mentally sharp, play clean, stay healthy, play above the net and stay aggressive in our attack.”
Fields did say he believes if his team accomplishes those things they might be in position to win league and make a tournament run.
One may think Fields was being coy and not wanting to give his team too much credit before actually playing a game when looking at the size and talent on the court during a recent practice.
Eaton returns several key players and has plenty of height to have the look of serious contenders for an SWBL crown and deep tournament run.
Emma McKinney returns for her junior season after spending the summer playing around the country, and is expected to be one of the top players in the league from her setter position.
McKinney will have plenty of options of hitters to set up as the team returns senior hitters, Meghan Puckett, Allison Collins, Julia Titus, and Brittany George.
Fields said right now the Eagles are 11 deep when healthy, with McKinney and the four senior hitters being joined by senior setter Aubrey Stevenson, defensive specialists and seniors Brandi Sittloh and Breonna Gayhart, and senior libero Jackie McCafferty.
Rounding out the roster is junior Stacia Weathington and sophomore Ariel Richardson.
Fields has some key games circled on the calendar, with the first being county rival Preble Shawnee on Aug. 27. Shawnee is one of the few area teams who have similar size to the Eagles. Fields also circled games against Bellbrook, Monroe, Richmond and Talawanda as games which are important to the overall success of the season.
One area Fields believes his team will be special in: leadership.
“With this group we have eight seniors, our leadership — when it comes to leadership, this is a group of type A personalities, we don’t have just one kid who stands out when it comes to leading the team,” he said. “I feel like they are all pretty good at one point or the other picking themselves up. We’re excited about this season.”
Fields described his early practices as focused, high intensity works — competitive and positive. He says this team has chemistry like he has never seen before in his eight years of coaching.
Fields however says for his team to be successful this season they need to work hard every day in practice and the classroom, and remain focused on playing competitively in every match.
The Eagles’ season got off to a strong start on Saturday, Aug. 22, when the team traveled to Dixie. Eaton won 3-0, winning in straight games, 25-15, 25-13, 25-17. Leading the lady Eagles was Jackie McCafferty with 13 digs, Emma McKinney with 34 assists, Julia Titus, with 10 kills and nine digs, and Brittany George with eight kills, 15 digs, and three blocks.
The Eagles are now 1-0 and face Tri-County North on Monday, Aug. 24.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062