Mike Edmiston spent the 2013 volleyball season coaching at Dayton Intermediate, and watching plenty of Dayton High games.
Edmiston finds himself on the Dayton High bench after Monica Halverson resigned after leading the Dust Devils to a 36-2 record and a second-place state finish. The new Dust Devils open the 2014 season Friday at the North Tahoe Tournament with games at 5 and 7 p.m.
The transition has been fairly smooth, according to Edmiston.
“Monica has been there to help out with some of the little things,” Edmiston said. “Everybody understood why Monica stepped down, but they were a little upset at first. They are working hard and they all want to have a good season.
“What I like about this team is that they have played together for a long time, and they communicate really well. They are able to read each other. The thing that concerns me is the lack of experience. We have some sophomore middles that played either freshman or JV last season, and it’s a big transition.”
Edmiston inherits a team with five returning players — senior hitter Cheyanne Strong, outside hitter Rachel Hadley, setter Shalia Powell, middle hitter Kaylee Turner and senior libero Elvia Diaz.
Up from either the JV or freshmen teams are sophomores Kallie and Kassie Strong. Kallie will play opposite and Kassie will be a middle hitter. Makenna Olsen, another sophomore, also will play in the middle. Katie Turner is a defensive specialist, Taylor Lockett is an outside hitter and defensive specialist, and Giovanna Devechi, a foreign exchange student from Brazil, round out the team.
Strong finished with 55 kills,10 blocks and 31 digs a year ago. Hadley had eight kills, 32 digs and 10 aces, while Powell contributed 13 kills, 47 digs and 165 assists as Peach Coons’ back-up last season. Turner had 48 kills and 24 blocks last year and Diaz had 44 digs and 14 kills.
The 2014 season represents two new eras in Dayton volleyball. The first without Halverson and the first without superstar hitter Madison Foley, who is now playing at the University of Nevada. Both are big losses to be sure.
Foley is impossible to replace. She had 250 kills and 177 digs, both team-leading marks. Her kill success rate was an amazing 48 percent.
“She was the go-to person,” Edmiston said. “To fill her role, you have to find somebody that can do what she did or find some other ways to do it.”
Edmiston doesn’t have a dominating hitter, so he will try to attack from different angles. “We’re going to run a quicker offense like they do in college,” Edmiston said. “A lot of times the middle hitter in the air as the setter is setting it. It gives the middle blocker time to react. We want the middle to be in the air before that.
“That way their blocker will have to commit, and if they do that, we’ll get more outside hits.”