Over the summer, Fort Scott Community College's head volleyball coach got married. And Sonya Petroski (nee Garcia) doesn't want the only positive change in her life to be her last name.
Petroski feels she can take Fort Scott Community College's volleyball program to a new level this year. Not just up to .500 but into title contention in the Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division.
That's a lot of optimism coming off an 0-31 first season as coach of a program that hasn't won as many as 10 matches in a season since 2003.
"I know it sounds kind of crazy with how the program has been in the past," Petroski said after practice Tuesday evening. "But when you see these girls, you realize that they are the type of girls who can make Fort Scott a name program."
The Greyhounds open the season this coming weekend with a two-day tournament at Butler. They were in El Dorado last weekend for a conference scrimmage.
"We shocked a lot of people," Petroski said. "There were plenty of people who were shocked at Fort Scott volleyball is going to be this year."
Only two sophomores return: Fort Scott High graduate Ashley Cavin and libero Camille Becerra. Cavin played a lot on the front line last season. Their experience at the junior college level will help the nine freshmen on the roster.
"The two sophomores are very competitive girls and we're glad to have them back," Petroski said. "Both of them played a lot last year. And both of them having experience of playing in the college game, it's helped us out with leadership that shows our young team exactly what to expect."
The freshmen will have to acclimate themselves to the college game quickly if the 'Hounds are going to be competitive. Petroski says the newcomers are coming along quickly.
"At first, I kind of thought it might take us a while," she said. "But as we started playing, I noticed our freshmen are acclimating to the college game fairly quickly. Quite a few of our girls played for larger club teams and traveled around the country. Having them know the pressures of playing in front of a large crowd and at a more competitive well has really helped us out."
Among the freshmen on the roster are FSHS grad Kelli Davis, who is a right-side and middle player. Other Kansans on the team include Central Heights graduate Kelly Adkinson, who's a setter, and setter Kara Baker of Overland Park.
Petroski says the starting six are pretty much decided. The staff will be looking for who can come off the bench to make an impact and to find their competitive edge.
"We're still looking to see who can offer us different things on the court," she said. "This weekend, we're looking to go in and shock the pants off everyone. We want to be as competitive as we can. It's not about finding the starting six but finding our competitiveness."
Petroski also said that many conference coaches feel that the division championship is up for grabs and that Butler, Johnson County and Neosho County are not going to be as dominant. If that's the case and the Greyhounds can "shock" opponents, FSCC could be in position to move up.
"It's really exciting to have such a young team be so competitive already," Petroski says. "That will help us out that much more next year to have this many sophomores, which will help us continue to be a more competitive program."
Bold -- Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division match.
Aug. 28...at Butler Tournament, 3 p.m.
Aug. 29..at Butler Tournament, 11 a.m.
Sept. 2......at Johnson County, 6:30
Sept. 5.........at Cottey Triangular, noon
Sept. 7............LONGVIEW (Mo.), 6:30
Sept. 9.......................BUTLER, 6:30
Sept. 16........at Cloud County, 6:30
Sept. 17....CEDAR VALLEY (Texas), 7 p.m.
Sept. 19......NORTHEASTERN OKLA. A&M, noon
Sept. 22.............HIGHLAND, 6 p.m.
Sept. 24.........at Avila (Mo.) JV, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28...........at Independence, 6:30
Sept. 30...................LABETTE, 6:30
Oct. 5..........................AVILA JV, 6:30
Oct. 7.............at Allen County, 6:30
Oct. 10......................HESSTON, noon
Oct. 14......at Kansas City Kansas, 6:30
Oct. 16..at Triton (Iowa) Tourn., 1 p.m.
Oct. 17....at Triton Tournament, 9 a.m.
Oct. 19...at Northeastern Okla. A&M, 6
Oct. 21..............COFFEYVILLE, 6:30
Oct. 23.................at Longview, 6 p.m.
Oct. 26.......at Neosho County, 6:30
Oct. 28...................at Cowley, 6:30