SPRINGFIELD — It’s a season of rebuilding for the Effingham County volleyball team but head coach Brittany Lein undeterred. She lives for this kind of challenge.
The Lady Rebels graduated six seniors but, with a dozen incoming freshmen, Lein sees an opportunity to infuse a passion for the game she loves into the rookies, hoping one day they will be veterans who take the program to the same heights it has enjoyed in the recent past.
“I have no problem starting freshmen on varsity,” Lein said. “For me, it’s positional. We graduated so many important positions and the girls I had don’t necessarily fill those positions. We have a lot of club players and a lot of the girls understand the game of volleyball. We are young and we are going to be rebuilding.
“Our key this year is going to be figuring out each other and being a team again. We have so many girls that have gone through the program together and now we are so new and we are going to have to rebuild that team and figure out how we are going to work on the court.”
The Lady Rebels return Aliya Goethe, Sara Bevill and Kinlee Tucker, and Lein sees the potential for a handful of freshmen to start. With a big roster, Lein expects her girls to come in prepared to battle for starting roles.
“We have a lot of girls who play the same position so it’s really hard because I have a lot of girls who play outside hitters,” Lein said. “It’s going to be friendly competition on who shows up to practice, who rises above and who decides to fill the shoes of the seniors that have graduated.”
Building the next group of star players starts with playing the best teams in the area. Lein doesn’t shy away from stiff competition, saying it’s important to build mental and physical toughness.
“This season, we are playing Calvary, Savannah Christian and some teams from Hilton Head,” she said. “Statesboro puts up a big fight with us. We have a pretty stacked schedule.
“Even if we have a .500 team this year, we are getting that competition and when you are starting these girls off as freshmen at varsity play, it’s only going to benefit us in the next couple years.”
Lein is going into her sixth season and just the thought of grooming a new crew is gratifying.
“It’s a fresh start,” she said. “I think one of the things I am looking forward to most is starting another team young and watching them grow through the program. I did that four years ago with my seniors who graduated last year. Half of them made the varsity team as freshman and we ended up having a dominant team the last couple years.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how we start and how we finish.”
Lein takes pride in being able to send her girls off to the next level. She wants to guide them through daily hassles and achieve personal goals, too.
“I love volleyball,” she said. “I love being able to make a difference in the girls’ lives. It’s not super strong in this area. It’s behind the learning curve.
“Having volleyball experience and having played volleyball in college myself, I like to bring that to the girls and bring them opportunities. When I first starting coaching here, we had girls going to college to play and when I can make a difference in a girls life, it’s worth every second that I’m in the gym with them.”