Spring Grove girls' volleyball set to start new era
SPRING GROVE — Over the past three decades, the Spring Grove girls’ volleyball program has usually been one of the most dominant outfits in the York-Adams League.
For proof, you just have to look at the team banner in the high school gymnasium.
That banner is rather full, but it's been a little while since it was last updated. Back in 2011, the Rockets claimed the Division I title ahead of a Dover team that featured standout Sammie Strausbaugh.
Entering the 2016 season, the Rockets are hoping to add to the program’s illustrious history. It probably doesn’t hurt that Strausbaugh, now a physical education instructor at Spring Grove, is part of the staff, which is being led by first-year head coach Liz Zeigler.
Zeigler, who coached the junior varsity team the past couple of years, and Strausbaugh are hoping to rejuvenate the program.
“We’re excited for the new year,” said Zeigler, who boasts a roster that has six seniors. “We’ve been doing something different and changing a couple of different things and just getting the girls excited.”
In addition to Zeigler and Strausbaugh, the Rocket coaching staff includes a pair of high-profile former coaches in Tom Hunt and Scott Musselman.
Hunt coached championship teams at Delone Catholic and Hempfield. Musselman is a 2013 Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee who enjoyed a long and successful career at Red Lion. Both are volunteer assistants. Nevertheless, those two have been very important for Zeigler, who has leaned upon them so far in the preseason.
“Tom is in the gym once or twice a week and Scott is a varsity assistant,” Zeigler said with a smile.
Strausbaugh, the daughter of former Dover co-volleyball coach Bobbi Strausbaugh, is eager to learn coaching tricks from some of her new peers.
“They’re definitely very helpful,” said Strausbaugh, who played NCAA Division I volleyball at Jacksonville University before graduating in 2015. “They bring some extra ideas and, just today, I was going to do a drill and coach Hunt was like ‘oh, I know this drill.' So I said, ‘let’s do it.' It’s just awesome to have other people around to bounce ideas off of from time to time.”
While a star-studded coaching staff is definitely a big asset, the success of the program will mostly come down to the players. With six seniors — Autumn Leese, Josie Attig, Morgan Bair-Carr, Alyssa Carbaugh, Alyssa Micik and Alexis Yingling — Zeigler is cautiously optimistic about her team’s chances.
“We have a very strong group and we’re very excited,” she said. “And we’re pretty deep in most of our positions, so that’s definitely a positive. We’re just trying to have a strong, hard work ethic and keep them focused. We want them to choose excellence every time they step on the court, and that’s our big theme this year.”
District 3 changes: While Zeigler has no specific goals in terms of postseason success for her club, the girls themselves have one big one — making the District 3-AAA playoffs. After just missing out on district play the last two years, the Rockets are still in the 3-A bracket in a four-division tournament. Previously, the District 3 field had just three divisions.
The good news about that is that bigger teams that are now 4-A, such as Central York, Cumberland Valley and Hempfield, are no longer in the way come playoff time. But other perennial contenders, such as Susquehannock, Garden Spot and Berks Catholic, are part of the 3-A bracket, which has 16 district qualifiers.
Following are the York-Adams League girls' volleyball program classifications for 2016-2017:
Class A: None.
Class AA: Bermudian Springs, Littlestown, Hanover, Delone Catholic, York Catholic, Fairfield. Six teams qualify.
Class AAA: Northeastern, Spring Grove, Dover, Susquehannock, Gettysburg, West York, York Suburban, Kennard-Dale, Eastern York. 16 teams qualify.
Class AAAA: Dallastown, Central York, York Tech, Red Lion, York High, New Oxford, South Western. 16 teams qualify.
A look back: Spring Grove is coming off a 6-6 season in York-Adams Division I a season ago.
That division was won in 2015 by Central York at 12-0, followed by Red Lion (10-2) and South Western (7-5).
Susquehannock took Division II at 13-1, followed by York Suburban (12-2), West York (10-4) and Kennard-Dale (8-6).
Delone Catholic captured Division III at 12-0, followed by Hanover (9-3) and Bermudian Springs (8-4).
Delone went on to win the York-Adams League Tournament for the fourth straight season.
York Catholic finished fourth in Division III at 6-6, but went on to win the District 3-A title. Delone finished second in the district in AA to Berks Catholic, while Central York took second in AAA to Hempfield.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.