Recently retired Sycamore volleyball coach Debbie Klock was never shy about waving her arms, shouting instructions to her players, or even jumping in the air after a big point.
New coach Eric Nore probably won’t do any of that.
Nore is a calmer type who is more likely to let his players work through a game themselves than instruct from point to point.
“[Klock] would tell us what we needed to fix after every point and she would always be there to correct us and give suggestions,” Sycamore captain Shannon Maher said. “He’s still there to do the same things, he just likes to let us figure it out a little bit first to build some leadership, I think. They’re both very good coaching styles, but they’re just very different.”
After 18 years with Klock on the sidelines, most of which were successful, the change will be stark for Sycamore. But that doesn’t mean the Spartans aren’t excited about their new coach.
“He definitely has a different coaching style, but it’s something that we’ve all gotten used to by now,” Maher said. “It’s going really well, we’re all adapting to it really quickly.”
The transition doesn’t stop with the head coach. Three Daily Chronicle All-Area players graduated after last season, including Player of the Year Ratasha Garbes. Maher and All-Area libero Christina Dailey, who will be the Spartans’ captains this year, already began taking on leadership roles this summer before Nore was hired in June, when they gathered their teammates for weight lifting and workouts.
But when Dailey found out about the hire, she was relieved.
“In the spring, while other fall sports are already starting their conditioning and all types of stuff, volleyball was still waiting to hear, ‘Hey, what’s going on, do we have a coach?’ ” Dailey said. “A lot of my friends from club had really good things to say about him.”
Despite the turnover Nore has great expectations for the Spartans that were already set high by Klock’s program, which went to the state semifinals in 2007 and 2009.
While he may have a different way of procuring excellence from his players than Klock did, the goal hasn’t changed.
“We both have the same goals in mind, and that’s being at the peak of our game every single time we step on the court,” Nore said. “Maybe we have different philosophies on how to get there, but she’s a very competitive woman, very competitive coach. I’m the same way, I just take it in a different direction as far as how to get the competitiveness out of the kids.
“It’s a little daunting because I know she’s had a lot of success taking them downstate a couple of times. They’re big shoes to fill, but I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge trying to get Sycamore back to where it was a few years ago.”
Volleyball season preview capsules
Coach: Ben Fisher (second season)
2012 record: 30-9, 6-4 Northern Illinois Big 12 East; lost to Rockford Boylan in the Class 4A Sectional semifinals
Key returners: Courtney Bemis, Sr.; Madison Lord, Sr.; Courtney Wagner, Sr.; Abby Hickey, Sr.; Nicole Schladt, Jr.
Key newcomers: Kate Hickey, Jr.; Kayla Schafer, So.; Heather Bemis, So.; Morgan Newport, So.
Outlook: The Barbs had the area’s best overall record this past year, but they weren’t able to carry that success over to the conference season, where they finished third in the NI Big 12 East. This year, they bring back the bulk of their roster, so a NI Big 12 East championship should be the expectation for this group.
Fisher’s take: “We have a lot of skill and athleticism and a good amount of experience mixed with some young talent. We are back in the gym and working towards having another successful year. The improvement during preseason has been great, but we are still trying to solidify an identity. We have a positive outlook and high expectations for the upcoming season, just as we do for every season.”
Coach: Keith Foster (fourth season)
2012 record: 19-17, 7-5 Big Northern Conference, lost to St. Edward in Class 3A Regional quarterfinal
Key returners: Olivia Cotton, Sr.; Bridget Halat, Jr. ; Breea Rogalla, Jr.; Cassidy Abraham, Jr.; Lindsey Sunderlage, Sr.; Sam Hansel, Sr.; Molly Caldwell, Sr.
Key newcomers: Torri Bennett, So.; Lexi Howie, Fr.; Katie McClusky, Jr.; Erin Boester, Jr.
Outlook: Foster continued the process of turning around a Genoa-Kingston program that struggled before he arrived. The Cogs put together a solid season in 2013 behind all-state libero Olivia Cotton, and they’ll return a large portion of their roster, which could make for one of the better teams in the area. Burlington Central has always been a measuring stick for the Cogs, and this may be the year they get that win against their rivals that has eluded them in Cotton’s three years on varsity.
Foster’s take: “We have a heavy return of veterans and expect to compete in the Big Northern Conference this year with top teams Burlington Central and Richmond-Burton. Behind our strong offense and returning setters along with our all-state libero Olivia Cotton we expect to be strong contenders in our regional as well.”
Coach: Rick Koselke (first season)
2012 record: 8-16, lost to Keith in Class 1A Regional semifinals
Key returners: Makenzie Adamson, Sr.; Michelle Wittwer, Sr.; Dawn Failla, Sr.
Key newcomers: Lexie Leffelman, Jr.; Casey Martinez, Jr.; Skylar O’Hern Jr.; Courtney Bolin, Jr.; Alanna Sterling, Jr.; Madeline Dashney, Fr.; Cassie Barrett, So.; Madison Marshall, Fr.; Jessica Znamenski, Fr.; Michelle Percudani, Fr.
Outlook: The Hawks returned no starters from last season’s team, so the going may be difficult under a new coach. But Koselke is optimistic that his team can finish with a .500 record in the LTC, even after eight seniors graduated.
Koselke’s take: “With no starters returning, it’s going to be a learning year for all of us. But I’ve got three good senior leaders and a good group of juniors. The frosh-soph team is one of the strongest I’ve seen in a long time. The future looks very bright, indeed.”
Coach: Joanne Weirich (second season)
2012 record: 4-4 Little Ten Conferece, lost in Class 1A Regional semifinals to Newark
Key returners: Lauren Paver, Sr.; Caitlyn Flanigan, Sr.; Anne Klein, Jr.
Key newcomers: Karrigan Cowen, Jr.; Jacqueline Madden, Jr.
Outlook: All-Area middle blocker Lauren Paver returns for a team that could improve on last season’s .500 mark in 2012. The Royals lost a few key pieces, including All-Area hitter Beth Klein, but a talented junior class should be able to take the reins.
Weirich’s take: “We expect to put together a strong season and give both Newark and Lamoille a run for their money this year. We have a lot of talent out on the court coupled with our desire and teamwork, we can go far this season in the conference competition.”
Coach: Stephanie Crutcher (12th season)
2012 record: 18-17, 4-4 Little Ten Conference; lost in Class 2A Regional semifinals to Westmont
Key returners: Kayla Kauffman, Sr.; Bailey Martenson, Jr.; Emma Goodrich, Jr.; Rebekah Goodrich, Jr.; Rebekka Boehne, Jr.; Hannah Mathews, Jr.
Key newcomers: Sam Schultz, Jr.; Morgan Conley, Jr.; Sarah Dempsay, Jr.; Olivia Elliot, Jr.
Outlook: The Timberwolves lost All-Area players Kate Thuestad and Dallas Boehne to graduation, along with a few other key pieces, so this year will be one of transition. With a roster loaded with juniors, Indian Creek will look at this year with an eye to future success.
Crutcher’s take: “With only one senior returning, we are a very young team. The girls have worked hard in the offseason, but we have also dealt with injuries. They are learning new positions and how fast the game is at the varsity level.”
Coach: Kerri McCastland (first season)
2012 record: 23-13, 5-5 NI Big 12 East, Lost in Class 3A Sectional semifinals to Richmond-Burton
Key returners: Ellie Dunn, Jr.; Brin Wilk, Sr.; Casey Jacobson, Sr.; Emily Laudont, Sr.; Meredith McCafferey, Sr.; Ellie Strang, Sr.
Outlook: The Knights return plenty from a team that won the regional title last season, which was labeled a rebuilding year. Kaneland challenged for the conference title last year, and it should be a major factor in the NI Big 12 East race this year.
Coach: Eric Nore (first season)
2012 record: 24-14, 8-2 NI Big 12 East; lost in Class 3A Regional semifinals to Kaneland
Key returners: Christina Dailey, Sr.; Shannon Maher, Sr.; Emily Young, Sr.; Gabby Wenger, Sr.; Kendra Larson, Jr.; Shae McCoy, Jr.; Mattie Hayes, Jr.
Outlook: The Spartans lost three Daily Chronicle All-Area players, including Player of the Year Ratasha Garbes, who will play for Illinois State this fall. All-Area libero Christina Dailey will return to lead a team with plenty of veterans, so a second consecutive conference championship isn’t out of the question.
Nore’s take: “Are we going to go out and dominate people and just overpower teams? Probably not. But we’re definitely going to be a team that can scrap; with leadership, I think Kendra Larson is going to start to come out as a good setter. We’re going to be solid, we haven’t talked about how many matches we’re going to win or how far into the state tournament we’re going to go. We’re just focusing on getting better every single day.”
– Anthony Zilis, firstname.lastname@example.org