After two seasons off, Lindenmeyer resumes head coaching duties
by Kirk Whitaker
After finishing 18-10 with a second round loss to No. 1 St. Teresa last season, the Sullivan Lady Redskins volleyball team is looking to advance in a competitive Okaw Valley Conference, and this season, after two seasons off, Heather Lindenmeyer returns to head coaching duties.
“I resigned so I could devote more time to working on my master’s degree in English composition. Then I had my first child,” explained Lindenmeyer. “I am now very close to finishing my degree. In terms of why I’m coaching again, I wanted to make sure the girls had an opportunity to build on the great things they have accomplished. I’m familiar with the program and was willing to step in.”
As with every new season, there are seniors to be replaced, six total for Sullivan including second-team all-conference setter Taylor Wallis. And while that position was the big unanswered question for the Redskins heading into the pre-season, Lindenmeyer had 19 girls from which to choose and has since settled on Haylie Payton and Christina Brown as her new reliable choices. In addition, Emily Neuhauser and Maggie Plank will take to the outside, while Brittin Boyer and Nicola Grohler will assume the middle for the varsity.
The team itself has a dominant seven senior group leading the 19-member squad with four juniors, sophomores, and freshmen also within the ranks. But the group will see others besides seniors stepping up, including juniors Neuhauser and Boyer who have played varsity the last two years.
“I have been impressed with Haylie and Brittin’s vocal leadership, and those girls, along with Maggie and Emily, really do a nice job of staying aggressive the entire practice no matter what drill or game simulation we are doing at the time,” said Lindenmeyer. “We have a lot of positivity on the court, which is always what you look for as a coach, as it is very easy to get down several points really quickly in a match. We do have some girls who are ready to play aggressively and are just really ready to play in a game situation and take that pressure on.”
Looking forward to the season, Lindenmeyer and the Redskins have already set forth some reachable goals.
“The main things I want to see are the girls whom I have chosen to be on the court exhibiting a mental toughness, intense aggressiveness, and a team-minded attitude. When you find the core group of girls who do exhibit those traits, then success will come,” said the varsity coach.
“I would like us to be consistent passers and defenders and to realize how to play when our team has a great server behind the line, essentially look for ways to stay on a roll and keep our good servers behind the line.”
And though it will be the last year competing in the OVC, Lindenmeyer expects it to be one more tough year in the hard-nosed central Illinois conference.
“Our conference is always tough, and I think we need to make sure we are always competitive against the top-notch teams,” she said. “I also like the non-conference schedule early on because we get the chance to play quality teams, and as a coach, I will be able to see who can hang tough as we venture into conference season.”
The Redskins will begin their season Thursday at home against Windsor, the first opportunity for Linenmeyer and her squad to see what the preseason has provided in the way of preparation.
“I am just excited about the opportunity to help these girls become great competitors and develop their skills in a sport they love,” said head coach. “I think I am much less nervous this time around, as I have learned through the years that anything goes in any given match. Volleyball is such a mental game, and I hope our players learn that fairly quickly on in the season.”