For the Daily News
---- — EFFINGHAM — In case you're busy, and just need the basics, yes, Effingham volleyball will once again be a conference contender.
The facts are that in the 14 years coach Laurie Bohnhoff has been around, the Flaming Hearts have had only one losing season, and have recorded over 20 wins in 12 of the 14 years.
"We should be strong again this year," Bohnhoff said. "It should be a good season. We'll see if we improve enough to get to Mattoon this year in our conference. We have a couple of pretty big kids coming back."
Sophomore Shelby Nunamaker, tops out the list at 5-foot-11. Returning All-Apollo selection Stephanie Robb clocks in at 5-foot-10. Seniors Bethany Donaldson and Katie Bloemker are each 5-foot-9, while setter Felcia Totten and outside hitter Josie Zerrusen are both listed as 5-foot-8.
"We should be a hitting team," Bohnhoff said. "We don't have that many small kids, so we should have some explosive hitting. There are some juniors and sophomores that haven't played that much varsity which could hurt us a little bit."
Effingham lost five seniors to graduation on a team that went 22-14 and 8-2 in the Apollo Conference, good for second place behind 9-1 conference champion Mattoon. The losses include first team All-Apollo libero Kelli Utz and second team all-Apollo selections Shannon Daugherty and Deedra Myers.
The Lady Hearts have their kills leader in Robb, but will need others to contribute as well.
These may include Zerrusen and Nunamaker, as well as Brittany Beals. Zerrusen is penciled is an a potential libero. Nunamaker will see some time on the right side. Donnaldson will see time on the outside.
Sophomore Chandler Ramey, has potential to play on the outside and the junior Totten is slated as the starting setter.
"Brittany saw some time last year, and has a great pre-season so far," Bohnhoff said. "Bethany brings us some versatility. We can move her around. We are looking for some leadership in Felcia Totten. She will probably be our only setter.
"Josie Zerrusen is a very aggressive kid. Shelby is so tall that she can play right up there. We're excited to see how she can develop on the offensive side."
Even with the excitement, the team is still a work in progress.
"I think coming together with communication is a main problem," Bohnhoff said. "These are a different group of kids who haven't been together in those intense situations in big games. Also, our serve receiving and passing needs some work."
As the season progresses, fans will be hopeful to see another conference race with their Lady Hearts near the top.
"We definitively want to try and win conference," Bohnhoff said. "I don't think we are the headliner, or are supposed to win. Mattoon is one of the best hitting teams. Hopefully, by the end of the season, we are playing some good defense."
Bohnhoff has also penciled in a few other goals.
"We want to win a Regional this season," she said. "I don't know what the regional pairings will be, but we want to try and win. I say we should go for over 25 to 30 wins this season."
Effingham hasn't won a Regional title since 2008 when the team went 32-8.
They will start the push for 25 to 30 wins on Sept. 3, when they take on crosstown rival St. Anthony on the road at 6:15 p.m.
Seniors: Bethany Donaldson RS, Katie Bloemker M, Carly Glaspy DS, Stephanie Robb M, Josie Zerrusen OH
Juniors: Brittany Beals M, Madeline Mitchell OH, Katie Roberts OH, Felcia Totten S, Rachel Weis S
Sophomores: Jennifer Fred OH, Shelby Nunamaker M, Chandler Ramey OH