The Johnson Central Lady Golden Eagle volleyball team has been looking to the future since head coach Kayla VanHoose took over the program.
VanHoose, who will begin her third season leading the Lady Golden Eagle program has been building this for sometime now.
“This year we’re big and we’re giving these kids the basics they’ve not had before at an earlier age. This season we’re going to reap the benefits of the things we’ve sewn over the past two seasons,” VanHoose said.
VanHoose has a history of playing younger girls. She coached at Sheldon Clark before coming to Johnson Central and has always brought a few middle school girls up to the high school ranks. That allows the younger players not only more games, but the chance to experience different levels of play. “Traditionally, I’ve always pulled seventh and eighth graders with the potential to play high school volleyball,” VanHoose said. “What they’re doing is, getting that middle school season then going straight on through to the high school season.”
She has completely turned around the thinking of the way people see volleyball in Johnson County. “We have kids that play other sports, but the good thing about volleyball, it doesn’t interfere with any of those,” VanHoose said. “You’ve got girls who are playing from early February to October because we do open gym in the summer and we have our youth league. People laugh at me because I live in the gym.”
Despite finishing 11-18 a season ago, VanHoose expects a bright future this year for her Lady Golden Eagles. Last month, former Marshall head volleyball coach and personal friend of VanHoose, Mitch Jacobs held a camp and coaching clinic at Johnson Central. With the dead period now over, the Lady Golden Eagles held their tryouts Monday with their first real practice scheduled for the following day so they are ready to get to work.
VanHoose expects two underclassmen, sophomore Sydney May and freshman Kara Ward to play a big role on the team this season.
“She’s a fantastic outside hitter, she puts the ball down and she gets better every time I look at her. She’s got a great vertical, great blocker, she’s huge for us,” VanHoose said.
Ward will also have to step up big this season as well.
“Ward is a middle and she has played up on the varsity level since she was a seventh grader, so she has all kinds of experience under her belt and maturity this year,” said VanHoose.
The Lady Golden Eagles will also have plenty of senior leadership as well, with Abigail Estep. “Abigail is just the leader on the floor. She does a smart thing every time she touches the ball. You just couldn’t do it without her.
Kloe Jennings is another one, along with Morgan McCoart who is our Libero,” VanHoose said.
Johnson Central opens their season with a tough district game against Magoffin County which will also be their home opener on August 22nd. They will play in the Swift Silver Mine “Dig For Gold” Tournament at Wolfe County August 24th. The Capital City Classic in Frankfort August 30-31st. They will also participate in the Tug Valley Volley Fued on October 5th.