The Trojans are coming off a tough volleyball season that saw the team go winless in the Apollo Conference.
Charleston finished the season 8-26, 0-12 in the Apollo, and lost in the first round of the postseason.
But the team’s top three players return, including the team’s top hitter in junior Addison Shrader.
“Last year, we didn’t make it past the first round of regionals and I believe we can go farther,” said Shrader. “I believe we can put up some wins against teams in our conference. I don’t think people are going to recognize our team. We have grown and developed a lot. I’m very excited to see what we do this year.”
Shrader led the team with 129 kills while Audrey Jacobs added 126 kills as a freshman. Senior Mackenzie Pamperin is a former All-Apollo player and was third on the team in kills while contributing 424 assists as the team’s top setter.
The Trojans lost four seniors from last year’s team but said the returning players and new faces have been competitive during the summer.
“The girls and I have been taking the opportunity in the off-season to work out and get better at our skills,” said Shrader. “We have been working really hard in open gyms pushing each other to get better. We are coming off a tough season last year but when you walk into the gym it’s just a new feeling. We are having so much fun with each other and we are relaxed when we are playing. There are some girls that played JV last year that are really stepping up this season.”
Shrader said that the transition with a new coach has gone smoothly. Nicole Beals took over after Steve Pamperin resigned at the end of last season. Beals previously coached at Paxson-Buckley-Loda. She will be assisted by Ashlee Robinson.
“The new coach pushes us and is also super close to all the girls,” said Shrader. “She does the works out with us. Most of us stay after and get extra reps in with our coaches playing with us. I see it as one big family.”
Shrader said she immediately felt really good about the coaching style from Beals.
“She won’t let us slack off, but she also won’t let us take it so seriously that we aren’t having fun,” said Shrader. “All the players that are returning have an experience under their belt now of how the game is played which will benefit us.”
Before last year’s eight-win season, the Trojans had won 44 total games in two seasons – the best two-year mark in school history. Shrader is hopeful that all of the hard work that the team can get back to playing at a competitive level.
“My goals for this team this season are to get better at our game and have fun,” said Shrader. “This team has a special kind of heart. They work very hard knowing we don’t have much height on this team. I think some teams will be surprised when they meet us this year. I think those close games we had last year will flip and go our way.”