LIMA— Lima Senior head coach John Zell used two very simple words to describe his team as it prepares for a new season: Completely different.
And if their season opener Monday against Toledo’s Woodward High School gives any indication, the change looks to be for the better. Lima Senior dominated three straight sets against Woodward 25-4, 25-19, 25-11.
“We’re young,” Zell said, noting he played three freshmen, three sophomores and three juniors along with the two seniors in the match. “We’re very young in the middle positions, and we really like to focus on getting good kills. Sometimes we tend to give points away, like in the second set when we had six service errors and four five hitting errors. Those are the kinds of mistakes young teams will make, so we’ll have to work at those in order to be successful.”
The Spartans are coming off a season in which they were eliminated in the sectional finals, finishing their season 5-18. They lost two seniors to graduation following that season — Jasmine Thomas and Morgan Thompson, who each currently play collegiately. Thomas was a middle hitter for Lima Senior, while Thompson was a strong setter. They also lost an outside hitter from last season to an injury.
The two seniors who return for Lima this season are defensive specialist Kianna Collins and libero Kyra Allen. Allen was a key player in the attack for the Spartans on Monday, finishing with 8 aces and 12 digs.
“It’s our first game, so everyone’s pretty nervous,” Allen said. “Everyone’s getting used to the new teammates. We expect a lot out of ourselves in a conference as tough as the one that we’re in (Three Rivers Athletic Conference), and I think our coach expects a lot out of us too.”
Lima Senior showed very aggressive offense in itsopener, putting up points quick against Woodward’s defense. The Spartans will hope to keep up that kind of fast-paced offense against a very tough Findlay team Thursday.
“Findlay is always a very competitive game for us,” Allen said. “Since we’ve played them in each of our last two conferences, we always play hard against them.”
Findlay is just one of several programs the Spartans will look to overcome in conference play this season.
“We’re in one of the top two or three volleyball conferences in all of Ohio,” Zell said. “Last year, two teams out of our conference advanced to the final four in the state tournament. It’s a very tough conference to win in. The quality of competition is just something you won’t find anywhere else in northwest Ohio.
“It’s good for everyone to see that kind of competition to see what those kinds of teams look like, and it’s very good experience.”
Junior Taija Mills was also a big performer for Lima Senior on Monday, getting 9 kills. Mara Zell led the Spartans with 18 assists and Ashanti Thomas added 5 kills.