Normally a team that loses three seniors to division one college program would be labeled as being one going into a rebuilding year.
Don't tell that to Bellmont volleyball coach Craig Krull, however, as the veteran spike coach is optimistic about his 2011-12 team that will hit the floor in less than two weeks against Bishop Dwenger in its attempt to start its defense of the 2010 class 3A state championship title.
"It's going very well (practice). We had two days of tryouts, made our teams and we are off. The girls are all working hard to show what they can bring to the program this year and try to continue from where we ended last year.
"The temperature and humidity is high in the gym but the attitude is all business and we get after it trying to get into volleyball shape. The hardest thing right now is just getting the girls back to playing together and getting comfortable again with each other on the floor," Krull reported.
The Squaws lost heavy hitters Alex Fuelling to Moorehead State in Kentucky and Madison Schultz to Newberry College in South Carolina, and libero starter Chelsea Colclasure to Southern Illinois at Edwardsville from the 2010 state title team.
Krull has four three-year veterans returning to the floor this year, however, with setter Steph Shoup, middle hitter Payton Schultz, defensive player Allison Gutierrez, and defender Erin Hunter all back. Krull said Gutierrez would assume the libero role this year and that Hunter will also see a bigger role this year in the line-up as well.
Sophomore twins Bailee Hankenson and Holly Hankenson will also return with Bailee is ready to do some setting while some Holly will be the number one outside hitter for the Squaws this year. Their mother, Bridget (Boyle) Hankenson, was a volleyball star at Bellmont and then played division one at Illinois.
Krull said Bellmont will be aided by the addition of senior Melissa Mailand who in the past has been a home school student. "She's a very high jumper and will play middle hitter for us," Krull said.
Others slated to see significant action for Bellmont will be junior middle hitter Sarah Norder, whom Krull said is the hardest hitter on the team, and Janaya Wilder, a freshman outside hitter, "who has good all-around skills and will be a big impact this year on the outside."
The Squaws went 33-5 last season. Due to realignments in the state, Bellmont will face another traditional volleyball power from Delaware County with 2010 state runner-up and 2009 state champion (class 4A) Muncie Central dropping down to class 3A action.