The Denair varsity volleyball team is expecting to find some success on the court this season even when their coach can’t make the game.
Second year head coach David Lewellen will miss a portion of the season because of a work schedule conflict, but he has placed Darrin Allen and Yulissa Tafoya as his back-ups.
“I can't be here as much but it’s made it an easier transition having all these people to help,” said Lewellen. “If they weren't here and Darrin didn't allow it then I would not be able to coach this year. Together we are making it work.”
Allen is the Coyotes Athletic Director and Tafoya is a Denair alum who is an assistant volunteer. With the help of these two, Lewellen is hoping that this year’s team might give glimpses of what he has building towards.
It won't be anywhere near an easy feat, but it is very possible.
“We want to build something here since Denair never really had a big winning volleyball team. So my ultimate goal is to create a winning team or establish a successful program,” said Lewellen.
The Coyotes, who spent time training in the sand at the volleyball courts at Pitman during the offseason to better their game, seem more committed in the upcoming year, with the assistance of their four seniors.
Kelsey Park, Eva Varni, Ileah Brantley and Vickie Adler make lead the 13 players on this year’s roster that looks probably as talented as Lewellen has ever seen at Denair.
“These are the group of girls who wanted me to coach have taken a leadership role as well and are working towards understanding it all,” said Lewellen. “They know this is their last run here at Denair.”
The Coyotes come in having gone winless in the prior season at 0-15 overall and 0-14 in the Southern Athletic League.
This looks to be a different season and the light has already shined on the team when Cheyenne Souza, a former Pitman Pride player, deciding to join the Coyotes as a sophomore and has made the varsity team.
Lewellen is expecting the 6-foot-1 outside hitter or middle to shine for Denair.
“She is very good,” said Lewellen. “She can almost be playing anywhere and I am excited... really excited with the team this year. The fact that she wanted to come here and play with us is a huge confidence booster.”
The team will run the 6-2 without a libero and will be led by Park and Varni's setter play.
“They are tougher mentally this year as well,” said Lewellen. “One other thing I teach is all around players. I don’t want a libero since I come from beach volleyball where we have to know how to do it all and I want to make sure I teach everyone to do every job on the court in case they are in that position they know it.”
The season will begin at home for the Coyotes against Turlock Christian, a team that swept them 3-0 last season. The season home opener at 7 p.m. Monday.