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New coach leads Bulldogs into volleyball season

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FROSH FIND: Freshman Samantha Adams is expected to help Clinton Central this year, with new head coach Haleigh McCoy describing her as "super athletic."
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NEW VOICE: Clinton Central volleyball players listen to their new head coachHaleigh McCoy, second from right, during practice on Wednesday.
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SENIOR SEASON: Jessica Akard, a Times second-team all-county player last season, serves during a drill at Wednesday's practice. Akard is one of three seniors on this season's Bulldog volleyball squad, along with Ella Buzan and Katie McQuinn.
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COACH McCOY: Haleigh McCoy takes over as head coach of the Clinton Central volleyball program this season. The 2014 graduate of Sheridan High School played for the Blackhawks and at Indiana University-Northwest in college.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

A new coach will lead Clinton Central volleyball into the coming season, but 2014 Sheridan High School graduate Haleigh McCoy is familiar with the Bulldogs' program from her own playing days.

She also is looking forward to the start of the season when Central hosts her alma mater in the season's first match on Aug. 20.

“It's against my school, so I'm very excited for that match,” McCoy said.

After her playing career at Sheridan, McCoy went on to play for Indiana University-Northwest, but has had a tie to Clinton County for some time and currently resides in the county.

“I married my high school sweetheart (Lane McCoy), and he went here,” she noted. “We've been together since we were 14 years old and so we got married three years ago and he graduated from Central.

“I'm a stay-at-home mom, so I take care of my two boys during the day and I help my grandpa at BP Construction with HR stuff and then I'm here.”

This is McCoy's first high school head coaching job, but she coached club teams for The Academy Volleyball Club, Magnum Force Volleyball Club “and one up north.”

She had limited knowledge of the team before being offered the job.

“I think I may have watched one or two games just being in the area, but I wasn't affiliated with the team in any way,” McCoy said.

She noted she hasn't had an opportunity to speak with the Bulldogs' previous coach Lael Larrick about the team as her hiring happened fairly recently.

“They were gone long before I was even a thought,” McCoy said. “Someone actually called me and asked if I would be interested in coaching. I wasn't particularly looking. It wasn't very long ago, right before the season.

“I had my meeting with one representative from the school board, a couple of coaches, the principal and the athletic director all interviewed me at the same time.”

However, McCoy has the benefit of having somebody very familiar with the team on her staff in Kailyn Barrentine, who graduated from Central last year and starred on last season's squad.

Barrentine was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs, earning Times' all-county honors three times and finishing at Central as the school-record holder with over 2,000 assists during her career.

“She is my JV coach this year,” McCoy said. “She's been a huge help getting to know all the girls and getting to know the school and the parents. She has good insight on that end.”

Central will be without two other graduated seniors in Kaylea Whitcomb and Baileigh Arnold.

“The only returning players that were on varsity last year I know of were my three seniors – Ella Buzan, Katie McQuin and Jessica Akard,” McCoy said. “They are all pretty even-keeled and they all have their separate positions. Jessica's a super-strong outside hitter.

“She's my main outside hitter, but Katie's a right-side hitter so she can hit on the opposite side of the court whereas Jessica's not as strong on the opposite side. Whereas, Ella's a fantastic passer for us. The other two don't specialize in the back row. They are good at the back row but Ella is just lights out.”

McCoy noted 20 girls have come out since the first day of practice on Monday “and I'm expecting to get maybe a couple more, so I'm going to estimate between 20 and 23 possibly.”

A couple of underclassmen have stood out to McCoy in her short time with the team.

“Kendall Davison is a great athlete, she's just very athletic,” she said of Davison and another sophomore. “Her and I would say McKinna Crenshaw. She's another one that is super positive on the court. She's trying to be a leader. She's been very coachable and she's learned a lot over the summer.”

McCoy also highlighted one first-year player.

“I have one freshman that sticks out massively, Samantha Adams,” she said. “She's super athletic. She can jump out of this room. She's one to watch.”

The rest of the varsity roster is a work in progress.

“It's been a tough decision,” McCoy said. “Kailyn Barrentine and I have sat down multiple times trying to decide on rosters and it's been a super-tough decision on just who to have strictly on varsity or who to have on both because there's so many girls. It's a tough decision.

“There's a lot of decisions to be made. There's a lot of talented girls on the team this year. They are fighting out there for it today.”

McCoy noted that “I like to have my max at 10 people (on varsity), so between eight and 10. That's comfortable for me because then I'm able to give players enough playing time – as long as its earned of course – but I can really focus on that to strategize to win a match with a smaller group of girls rather than having 10 to 12 on the team.”

She said three girls are vying to see the bulk of the setter duties in junior Addy Weaver, Crenshaw and Ava Schimmel.

“I haven't quite picked them yet, but those are three that I'm looking at for varsity,” McCoy said, adding that Buzan and Allison Robbins are her varsity options at libero.

The Bulldogs saw some incremental improvement last year going 15-18 (6-2 Hoosier Heartland Conference) losing to then Class 1A No. 1 in the state and undefeated Lafayette Central Catholic in the sectional's first round after three straight seasons finishing between 11-21 and 12-21.

Highlights on Central's schedule include the Elwood Invite on Aug. 24, the Rossville tournament on Sept. 14, the CC Invite on Sept. 28, county opponent Frankfort at home on Oct. 1 and the Clinton Prairie Classic on Oct. 12. 

Along with the season opener against Sheridan, the Bulldogs have conference matches at Taylor on Aug. 26 and at Carroll on Aug. 27. They stay on the road against Rossville on Sept. 12 before home dates with Eastern on Sept. 19 and Delphi, a new HHC member, on Sept. 26. Central finishes up the conference schedule with Tri-Central on the road Oct. 3 and at home against Prairie on Oct. 10. 

The state tournament draw is scheduled for Oct. 6, with sectional play to begin on Oct. 15.  

“Hopefully, we're going to be prepared this season for whatever comes our way,” McCoy said. “I'm just excited for the season. I just hope our crowd comes out like it did when I used to play against Central because their crowd was phenomenal. So, I'm hoping the community comes together for a lot of support this season.”