PARKERSBURG - One more win was all that kept the Parkersburg South volleyball team from reaching the Class AAA state tournament last year.
Patriot head coach Becky Bennett is hoping her team that features just five returning letterwinners can once again get through the sectional round and then advance out of regional action and qualify to Charleston.
"I think it's within our grasp and something we can do," said Bennett, whose team was eliminated in the regional by eventual state champion Spring Valley.
"I think the girls just have to believe in themselves and have confidence in their abilities and go from that."
Both PSHS and rival Parkersburg are in a new region this year. The two Wood County schools will join Wheeling Park and Brooke to comprise the sectional. The other side of the region features John Marshall, Morgantown, University and Preston.
A trio of seniors - libero Alexis Leach, setter/outside hitter Lexi Spencer and outside hitter Katy Amos - join 11th graders Kayleigh Rexroad (middle blocker) and Kasey Williams (outside hitter) as the Patriots' five returning letterwinners.
Parkersburg South Patriots
Seniors: Alexis Leach*, Lexi Spencer*, Sutherlin Greenburg, Katy Amos*; Juniors: Kayleigh Rexroad*, Kasey Williams*, Brittany Boso, Nicole Landis, Logan Somerville, Lexi Hoover, Sara McPeek, Natasha Fish, Katie Harper; Sophomores: Taylor Ratliff, Brooke Piggott, Alyssa Roush, Megan Murphy, Chelsie Deems, Bailey Surbaugh; Freshmen: Mariah Parsons
* Denotes returning letterwinner
Aug. 30: at University
Sept. 1: at Oak Glen Invite
Sept. 6: at Morgantown
Sept. 8: at Philip Barbour with Oak Glen/Frankfort
Sept. 11: John Marshall
Sept. 13: at Wheeling Park
Sept. 19: vs. Ravenswood/South Charleston at Civic Center
Sept. 20: University
Sept. 25: at George Washington
with Shady Spring/Hurricane
Sept. 27: at John Marshall
Oct. 2: Wheeling Park
Oct. 6: Fall Brawl
Oct. 11: at Tyler Consolidated with Brooke
Oct. 13: OVAC Tournament at Steubenville
Oct. 16: Volley for the Cure at PHS
Oct. 20: at Huntington Invite
Oct. 25: Morgantown
On Wednesday night, coach Bennett was finally able to see her team in action via a scrimmage against Ritchie County. On Saturday, the Patriots head to Charleston Catholic for their final scrimmage before opening the campaign on Thursday at University.
"We came out against Ritchie County pretty strong and we worked on several different lineups," said the coach. "We saw some things we still need to work on.
"We have a starting sophomore setter (Taylor Ratliff) who has not touched varsity in her life, but it was a good start and I'm happy with what I saw."
Ratliff, along with Spencer, will be the two setters in Parkersburg South's 6-2 offense. Sutherlin Greenburg, the Patriots' other senior, could end up hitting for Ratliff in the front row while junior Logan Somerville could find herself playing in the back row for Amos.
Coach Bennett has a current varsity roster of 13 and 20 total including the junior varsity. PSHS also is having a freshman squad.
The lone freshman on the varsity roster is defensive specialist Mariah Parsons and the remainder of the current varsity members are comprised of juniors Brittany Boso (outside hitter), Nicole Landis (outside hitter), Lexi Hoover (right side hitter) and middle blocker Sara McPeek.
Chemistry is something coach Bennett knows must develop as the season progresses. The Patriots are also hoping to make a run and qualify for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference tournament set for the second week of October in Steubenville.
"Obviously, there are still things we need to work on," added Bennett, who is anxious to get another look at her team in a different setting on Saturday. "Some of the kids are playing different positions than what they are used to."
Two other juniors, Natasha Fish (middle blocker) and libero Katie Harper, along with sophomores Brooke Piggott (setter), Alyssa Roush (middle blocker), Megan Murphy (setter), Chelsie Deems (outside hitter) and right side hitter Bailey Surbaugh are also trying to find varsity playing time this year.