A nice blend of experience and youth has the Lake Placid volleyball team excited about defending its Class 4A-District 9 championship this year.
The Green Dragons have a number of talented starters back from last year’s squad that went 23-5 and lost to state powerhouse Berkeley Prep in the state quarterfinals, as well as several underclassmen who should be able to contribute during the season.
“I’m excited about the returning players I have and the young guns who are stepping it up,” said Lake Placid volleyball coach Charlotte Bauder. “I think our team has bonded pretty well and is ready to play at a high level.”
Bauder, who graduated from Lake Placid in 1999, is entering her second year as the Green Dragons volleyball coach and is building a strong foundation for the program.
“We had a lot of girls try out for the team,” Bauder said. “Unfortunately we had to cut some of them but that’s a good problem to have.”
Lake Placid has four seniors being counted on to play a big role and they are Rachel Alejandro, Jacalyn Baldwin, Raveen Gobourne and Shannon Huber. Junior Mary Grace Bates is a team sparkplug and a positive influence on the floor.
“All of these girls played a lot last season,” Bauder said. “I rotated a lot and even if they didn’t start, they played important minutes during the season. “Everyone got lots of playing time and I consider them all starters.”
For the first time in a number of years, Lake Placid has excellent depth with sophomores Maddie Wilson and Sarah Morris proving they deserve more playing time.
“I ended up keeping 13 girls,” Bauder said. “All of the girls have had excellent attitudes and I haven’t had any problems with egos or anything like that.”
Lake Placid looks to be the class of Class 4A-District 9, which also includes Avon Park, Frostproof, McKeel Academy and Mulberry.
Lake Placid defeated Avon Park in the district finals last year.
“We have a lot of talent and I’m interested in seeing how we grow and improve as the season progresses,” Bauder said. “Avon Park is going to be tough again this season and we know we have to work hard and play our best if we want to be district champions again.”
Lake Placid opens its schedule with a match against Avon Park at 6 tonight in the Preseason Classic at Sebring High School.
The Blue Streaks play Frostproof in the second match at 7:30 p.m.
“We are looking forward to getting on the court and playing Avon Park,” Bauder said. “We have a good rivalry with them and it will give us an idea of how we stack up against them.”
The tournament concludes on Thursday night and a Green Dragon victory would probably set up a meeting with Sebring in the tournament finale.
“We have a great rivalry with Sebring as well and it would be nice to play them,” Bauder said. “But we have to focus on our first match which is against Avon Park. We have plenty of talent and I’ll be able to switch lineups and go with whoever has the hot hand and not worry about a drop off in talent when I substitute. More importantly, this team has a great will to win.”
Lake Placid begins the regular season with a home match against the Hardee Wildcats on Aug. 25. The Green Dragons host DeSoto on Aug. 26.