Tigers revamped and ready to roar|Rogers hopes roster moves strengthen squad

Published 12:32 pm Sunday, August 16, 2009

Contributing Writer

WILLIAMSTON – The Williamston volleyball team will look to continue its tradition of excellence this season as the reigning Atlantic Conference regular season champions, led by last season’s WDN player of the year Katie Paschal.
Like every season, Williamston lost a few key players from the previous year, but sixth-year head coach Herbie Rogers has made some roster moves that he feels can compensate for the losses.
“We lost Jessica Clemons, who played outside for us. We lost Kirsten Taylor and Emily Tadlock, who played a combination at the opposite, but we have a lot of people back,” Rogers said. “We have moved some people around into some different positions, and that’s what has taken us a long time to adjust.”
Rogers, a three time WDN coach of the year selection, said his biggest roster move involved switching his middle hitters to the outside to form a more potent attack.
“We moved Katie and Meredith (Robertson), both of them have been middle hitters in our program, and we moved both of them to the outside,” Rogers said. “We brought in sophomore Shae Hansen to play middle for us along with Jesse Ann Rogers. I think most of the time it comes down to how your outside hitters hit. We want to have an opportunity to win the game, and we want to put some girls out there that can hit the ball down.”
The move comes with risk, being that Paschal defended and attacked very well from the middle hitter position last year, but Rogers said that the position change should strengthen the team.
“There are a lot of times you can’t get the ball to the middle, but you can throw the ball to the outside. You have to be strong out there,” Rogers said.
This year’s Tiger team has some height, but doesn’t quite pack the punch at the net like some of the Williamston teams in the past. However, led by WDN all-area setter Heather Jackson, the 2009 Tigers will rely more on balance.
“We are a little bit of everything.” Rogers said. “Shae is fairly tall in the middle, but after that we drop off dramatically. We have some quickness in spots. We are just putting people in places that will give us a chance to win.”
Having a strong setter like Jackson should help keep Williamston in a lot of games.
“It all starts with Heather,” Rogers said. “She controls the game from the setter position and it’s important that she plays well.”
It may be even more important this season, as the Atlantic Conference has merged with the Albemarle Conference, forming an eight team mega-conference named the Four Rivers.
“We are still playing the same people, except there is only one conference champion,” Rogers said. “There will be some pretty good volleyball played in this conference.”
Williamston will embark on its journey to win another conference title on Tuesday when it clashes with Bear Grass in the season opener.