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Spartans aim for another state berth with new coach
by Greg Oshust
September 04, 2014 09:55 AM | 2620 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / North Springs' Zahria Graham hits a shot during the Spartans' match with Northgate Aug. 19.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / North Springs' Zahria Graham hits a shot during the Spartans' match with Northgate Aug. 19.
The North Springs girls’ volleyball team has enjoyed a run of success with four consecutive state tournament appearances, advancing to the second round three times.

However, the Spartans are in the midst of a transitional season with a new coach and a younger lineup.

Kim Daniel replaces Heather Stafford, who is now the volleyball coach at Riverwood, at the North Springs helm.

Daniel takes over a Spartan squad that lost seven players — including four seniors — after going 28-15 and advancing to the second round of the Class AAAAA tournament last year, where it lost a close five-game battle to Apalachee.

With four sophomores and two freshmen, the Spartans will be much younger.

But Daniel said those youthful players on the varsity, along with a number of promising prospects on the junior varsity, are something she can build on for the future.

“We lost a lot of players to graduation and other commitments,” she said. “So we have a few returners. But we have brought up a number up from JV and with our JV program. We have a huge number of ninth-graders in their first year who have come along so much with summer practices and also getting acclimated to volleyball fundamentals and playing as a team. So we have a lot of new players in the program. But they’re working hard and coming along very nicely.”

With a 3-7 record as of last Thursday, Daniel said that her team is still a work in progress.

“We had a lot of construction going on [at the school] and it was hard getting practice time,” she said. “So really, the team didn’t come together and become one until the first week of school, during the tryouts. So where other teams were doing scrimmages and other things and working together to gel, we’re still doing that right now. But the advancement from game to game, match to match, week to week, has come along quickly.”

Daniel said that what her team lacks in overall experience, it makes up for in athleticism and determination.

“We are very athletic and that is a plus,” Daniel said. “We’re very adaptable and we’re scrappy and we have a lot of heart. They are willing to learn. So all those put together means there’s a very bright future for North Springs volleyball.”

Senior outside hitter Zahria Graham and junior setter Bethany Holland are among the few returners for North Springs and give the young Spartans much-needed experience.

“We have players that are coming back and are experienced and we are able to expand on that and grow from that experience,” Daniel said.

Freshmen defensive specialists Nirelys Rohena and Taytum Blake are among the most promising of the Spartans’ younger players.

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