After finishing 17-19 a year ago, the Gering volleyball team is aiming for bigger and better things this fall.
The Bulldogs will start their new campaign by hosting Alliance in a renovated Gering High School gymnasium on Thursday night. First serve is set for 7 p.m.
“There is a lot of excitement to play in our new facilities and our first home game playing Alliance,” fifth-year Gering head coach Amanda Cochran said. “I think the girls are ready to go.”
The players are especially excited to be in a gym that now includes more windows, new lights, a new lighter floor, and a new look overall.
“We have been in our gym for a couple of days and the atmosphere and feeling in there is really great,” Cochran said. “The new paint and the new floor really lightens it up. We are really excited to be in a great facility that we are thankful to have.”
Gering returns four starters and six letter winners from a year ago. Three of those are seniors.
“We have quite of bit of experience with four starters coming back,” Cochran said. “We also bring in some freshmen. We are excited to see our growth through the season and see what our freshmen are capable of bringing.”
The three senior returning starters are 5-foot-7 libero Zoee Smith, 5-10 outside hitter Elli Winkler, and 5-9 middle blocker Emily Harrison. Smith will be the catalyst on the team as a four-year player. Smith has verbally committed to play volleyball at the University of Wyoming.
The other returning starter is junior Macey Boggs, a 5-9 setter.
Gering also welcomes back another senior in 5-10 outside hitter Taylor Philbrick.
Other returning letter winners include 5-7 Kennie McFarland and 5-11 Sydnee Brester.
Newcomers to watch out for include 6-0 rightside hitter Kyla Knight along with two freshmen in 6-1 rightside hitter Carleigh Pzsanka and 6-1 Maddie Rae at middle hitter.
Gering will look to build on a successful summer as the fall season gets underway.
“This summer has been very exciting for them,” Cochran said. “They love playing and they are group that you have trouble getting out of the gym. They have a lot of heart for the game and they have the grit.”
What Cochran saw this summer during the many camps they went to was a group of girls that became a family.
“They are a great group of girls and they are like family to each other,” she said. “They need to pick each other up when they are down and encourage each other when we need it.”
Cochran said Alliance will provide her Bulldogs with a tough challenge in the season opener. Even though Alliance lost a number of players to graduation, they still have plenty of talent to be successful.
“They have a really great middle and a girl that was injured last year with a knee injury is back this year,” Cochran said. “We definitely need to be on our toes and bring our game to win. It will be a great one out of the chutes to see how quick we can fire up.”