Eastside volleyball improves upon last year

COVINGTON - Eastside's volleyball made great strides this season with the future only looking better for the Lady Eagles.

The girls won more games than any other squad, going 18-23. And unlike any other team wearing the Eastside uniform, they made it out of the region tournament into the state playoffs.

Although they were a few games short of another goal, to go .500, it was still a good year to be on the volleyball team.

"I was very pleased with the outcome of our 2008 volleyball season," Eastside coach Angie Lewis said. "The first goal we set was to win more games than we did last year. We ended 2008 with an 18-23 record. That was more than four times the number of wins last season."

Another goal the Lady Eagles achieved was to win a region-tournament match, something they had never done before either.

Helping the Lady Eagles set their winning ways offensively were freshman Katie Johnston and juniors Antonia Mullins, Naomi Wills and Tiffani Hodges.

Johnston led the team with 85 aces followed by Wills (79), Mullins (60) and Hodges (43).

Helping Eastside score a lot of its points was senior Mary Sheets who had 374 assists as their setter.

A lot of Sheet's sets were to Johnston who finished the year with 105 kills with Mullins pounding the ball at the other team 72 times.

Keeping the other team from scoring against the Lady Eagles was senior Gabe Parker with had a team-high 132 digs. Besides leading the team in digs, Parker also did her share of forcing the other team to throw their bodies at the ball with 57 kills.

Also diving after the ball were Wills with 100 digs and junior Ashley Aycox with 91 digs.

Defensively, Eastside's top players were Mullins (59 blocks), Johnston (26), Parker (23) and Aycox (22).

"We touched the ball a tremendous amount of times on blocks, but it didn't always result in a point for us, (it) only made the game more exciting," Lewis said.

Their success made other teams do something they had never done before, scout the Lady Eagles.

"It was nice to see other coaches scouting us before our scheduled matches with their schools," Lewis said. "We've never been in that position before and it was complementary for an opposing teams' coach to tell us that he had heard from other coaches that we were a much improved team and one to take seriously."

While every team has a few players do more then others, Lewis felt that all of the girls played a part to their accomplishments.

As for next year, Lewis knows that she will miss the consistency and leadership of Sheets and Parker, but she knows that the others will be there to pick up what continues forward.

"Next year looks very promising with our returning players and a few other players joining our varsity squad," she said. "If our girls continue to play in the offseason and work on consistency, we should be a team that will attract attention and be taken even more seriously than we were during the 2008 season."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils