Centre reloading after a winning volleyball season in 2006

After graduating five starters and seven seniors, Centre volleyball will turn to a core of four seniors and letter-winners headlined by two-time all-league hitter Kylie Burhoop this fall. Pictured are: (from left) Samantha Jo Alvarez, Burhoop, Leann Pankratz and Amy Hajek. Andrew Ottoson / Free Press Click image to enlarge

Coming off a 19-13 performance in 2006, and having graduated of five of six starters, the Centre High School volleyball squad is entering a reloading year.

Coach Yvonne Burhoop begins her 26th year on the Cougar bench with three seniors, two juniors and 11 underclassmen on the roster.

?We must stay healthy and develop some of our younger players hitting and setting skills,? Burhoop said.

?The freshman class has a couple of fairly tall girls?and some of the sophomores have a little height? she said. ?But they?ve got to get the mechanics down.

?Hopefully by the end of the season, those kids will be able to contribute at the varsity level.?

Success in shaping young talent has helped Burhoop build her CHS career record to 430-279. It helps, of course, to have gifted athletes to work with.

?Our biggest team strength is work ethic,? Burhoop said. ?We?re not very tall?maybe even really short. But they?re willing to do anything I ask them to.

?We are young this year, both as far as players with varsity experience and as far as juniors and seniors,? she added.

Headlining this year?s group of returning letter-winners is two-time all-Eisenhower League senior hitter Kylie Burhoop.

?Kylie?s hitting has really impressed me lately?she?s getting her timing down,? Coach Burhoop said.

?I?m really torn between playing her in the middle or keeping her outside.?

Junior Leann Pankratz will give senior setter Samantha Alvarez another option with some experience.

?Leann does a real nice job of blocking and she has played the front row real well for me,? Burhoop said. ?I?d like to play her all the way around, because she?s got a good serve, too.

?Sam is my primary setter,? she added. ?I?m not sure if I?m going to run a 5-1 or a 4-2, but I know she?s going to be in there.?

Senior Amy Hajek and junior Bridgette Burns.

?Bridgette is one of our better passers, so she will be in the lineup,? Burhoop said. ?I?m not sure whether I?m going to use Amy at the libero spot, or have her come in and serve.?

Sophomores Dallas Rosenow, Josie Peterson and Shelby Dienes will all be pushing the upperclassmen for playing time.

?Outside of four or five spots, it is pretty wide open, and none of the starting positions are sacred,? Burhoop said.

Peterson is making her case for a share of the setting duties while Rosenow hunts for time in the back row and Dienes competes for a spot up front.

Six freshmen join the team this year, and Burhoop has high hopes for the class.

?Having incoming freshman meet high expectations at the varsity level is not very probable,? Burhoop said. ?But I think there are a couple that could see some time.?

Having graduated seven seniors, the Cougars will be significantly younger on the court than they were last year.

?If some of our young players step up, we should be in the middle of the pack, even with the number of starters and letter-winners we lost to graduation,? she said.

At Elyria Christian on Aug. 28, Centre played for the first time this season. Results were not available at press time.

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