WEST LAFAYETTE -- Veteran Ridgewood High volleyball coach Dan Smith will welcome back a total of seven letterwinners this season, with sets sight on improving upon a pretty successful season a year ago.
Smith, entering his 29th season as the mentor for the Lady Generals program saw his team compile an impressive 21-4 record last year, including a district semifinal appearance and they finished second in the Inter-Valley Conference behind a strong Tuscarawas Central Catholic team that finished as state runner-up for the second straight year.
"We have a nice blend of youth and experience with a solid core of players," Smith said. "Everyone is working hard and is enthusiastic and optimistic about the upcoming season."
Key performers lost to graduation the Lady Generals must replace this campaign include Kayla Tedrick, Alaynee Wright and Joy Heller.
Leading the way for the Lady Generals' returning veterans will be senior three-year letterman Victoria Wiggins (5-9, setter/outside hitter), last tear Wiggins was tabbed for First Team District 5 and Second Team IVC honors.
"Victoria brings three years of varsity experience and leadership to the team," Smith said. "She is a consistent setter, a powerful hitter and an excellent topspin serving."
Also back in the fold for RHS will be senior two-year letterman Kelsey Miller (6-1, middle hitter) who along with Wiggins will form a strong one-two punch for the Lady Generals. Miller was a Second Team District 5 selection last season for RHS.
"Kelsey is a very reliable middle hitter," Smith said. "She is also a very consistent blocker and jump server for us."
Rounding out the letterwinners back for the Orange and Black are senior Abbey Youngen (5-2, libero) and junior Laura Frazee (5-11, outside hitter) along with sophomores Amanda Lowery (6-0, middle hitter) and Erika Michael (outside hitter, defensive specialist).
Ridgewood hopes to benefit from the addition of three talented freshmen -- Laura Crawford (5-11, setter/outside hitter), Allie Dobson (5-11, outside hitter) and Morgan McDorman (5-3, setter/defensive specialist).
In sizing up the IVC race, Smith gives the early edge to the powerful TCC program.
"In the IVC, it starts with Central Catholic," Smith said. "They have a highly-successful program and that gives them the nod as the team to beat in the IVC."
Ridgewood's junior varsity team this season includes freshmen Paige Patterson, Courtney Tolliver, Roni Roberts; sophomores Cora Thompson, Danielle Bates, Kenzie Spires; and junior Rachel Schlarb.
Smith's coaching staff includes junior varsity coach Kayla Crozier and volunteer assistant Hannah Ridenbaugh. At the junior high level, Brenda McCoy will coach the eighth grade team and D.J. Bradford will lead the seventh grade.