First-year volleyball coaches preparing Boyle, Danville for postseason and beyond

Published 10:41 am Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Boyle County volleyball team has been pretty busy lately. Danville, well, not so much.

But as they crossed paths this week near the midpoint of the season, they found they were both headed in the same direction.

Both the Lady Rebels and the Lady Admirals are trying to gain experience that they hope will serve them well a month from now when the postseason rolls around, and the first-year coaches of both teams found something they could use Tuesday night in their first meeting of the season.

Boyle relied on its veterans to grind out a four-set win, but not before Danville took the first set in its first time out with the lineup it might have wanted all along.

It was the first of two meetings in three days between the teams. They played again Thursday night to make up a match that was postponed a couple of weeks earlier.

The Tuesday match might have seemed surprisingly close given that Boyle (9-12) had 18 matches under its belt and Danville (1-8) had played only twice since returning from a team quarantine.

But Boyle coach Eric Kenoyer wasn’t surprised.

“Any time we play in district we know it’s going to be hard, and volleyball in this area’s just improving all the way around, so you can’t take anybody for granted,” Kenoyer said.

That message came through loud and clear when Danville, which had won only five sets in seven previous matches and had an eight-day layoff while in quarantine due to COVID-19 protocols, pulled out to a 19-7 lead on its way to winning the first set 25-21.

The Lady Admirals didn’t get another set — Boyle won the next three 25-13, 25-21, 25-21 — but they got a needed does of confidence.

“I think it really boosted our confidence, because we knew Boyle was really good,” Danville coach Lindsey Daugherty said. “We know that we can beat them, we’ve just got to get over some things.”

Kenoyer took over a Boyle program that had been led by Andrea Craig for the previous six seasons, and he inherited a group of five seniors who have been together for years both within that program and on club teams.

He said those seniors helped rally the Lady Rebels after they fell behind.

“They have worked hard since July, really coming together as a team, focusing on one another and building each other up,” Kenoyer said. “I think today that mental toughness that we focus on in practice came through, and I’m thankful for our senior leaders.”

“These girls have been playing together for a long time. … They’ve stepped up and really want to end their senior year strong, so they’ve made a commitment to go all in. They’re doing everything they can to bring the younger players along.”

One of those seniors, Molly Wise, who leads the team in kills and is second in blocks, was in quarantine and away from the team Tuesday, and while Kenoyer said she was missed, he said other players stepped up.

“Selena (Cox) stepped up when we needed her to, Emma Young came off the bench to serve, Trinity Wells is a smart hitter and she found holes,” Kenoyer said. “Nobody played great, but we all played good enough together collectively to get through it.

“It’s a reality in these times. Everybody’s going to have to step up when you’re number’s called. At any given moment we could lose a key player, so everybody has to be ready to go and step up, and I hope we’re ready for it.”

Quarantine affected Danville in a different way, as the Lady Admirals were sidelined as a team for a week.

That was exactly what a young team with a new coach didn’t need. Daugherty, a 2009 Boyle graduate and a longtime Boyle assistant coach and middle school head coach, was hired during the June-July dead period and inherited a roster that includes only three seniors and three juniors.

“There was not much of a preseason, but we’re meshing well with each other,” Daugherty said. “Freshman, junior varsity, varsity, we’ve really come a long way with the time we’ve had together.”

The Lady Admirals’ leader in kills, Emma Bosley, is a junior. Its top servers are a senior and a junior, Isabella Joseph and Katie Jones, and freshman Hadley Terrell is the primary setter.

The Lady Admirals played a match on their first day out of quarantine, but for various reasons they didn’t have their entire team on the floor until Tuesday.

“It’s been tough, especially where this is the first time that we’ve tried this lineup because we’ve had all our girls here. But I think we’ve handled it well,” said Daugherty, who took over the program Maggie Myers led for the past five seasons.

Daugherty said one of the Lady Admirals’ greatest challenges has been staying focused when things haven’t gone their way.

“We’re still battling keeping our heads up whenever we lose a couple points, because I do have some younger players out there, but I think we’re working hard,” she said. “Volleyball is such a fast-paced game, and we’ve got to wipe the slate clean after every single point. Tonight we did better, but we still need to work on it.”

Daugherty said playing different lineups by necessity has helped in one way as well.

“Where everybody’s kind of mixing around, I think that’s helping us grow as a team,” she said. “We’re using the young players, and I think we’re really growing. By the end of the season, I have high hopes for us.”

There are high hopes at Boyle as well, which is why Kenoyer upgraded the Lady Rebels’ schedule with some matches against opponents from outside the 12th Region after he took over the program.

Boyle has lost many of those matches over the past two weeks, but Kenoyer isn’t disappointed.

“Overall, I’m pleased with the girls,” he said. “It’s been a rough two weeks. We’re playing a lot of teams from outside the region and outside the district just trying to get ready for the end of the season. These girls have really pulled together over these last two weeks when it would have been easy for them to fall apart.”