Photo by Brian Paglia
Senior Kelsey Arnold of Jonesboro is one of eight seniors that Cardinals coach Dan Maehlman is expecting to provide leadership to the team this season.
The Jonesboro volleyball team is not where coach Dan Maehlman wants them to be, but he likes the potential of this year’s squad.
Apparently, several observers in the volleyball community feel the same way.
The Cardinals start the season ranked No. 9 in the state in Class AAAA in the PrepCountry.com Preseason Coaches Poll, which was released earlier this week. Jonesboro returns four starters from last season’s team that finished 25-17 overall and reached the playoffs.
“This year’s team is forming nicely,” senior Kelsey Arnold said.
All the players say the goal is to live up to the expectations of the previous teams, which have been a dominate figure in the county.
Several members of last season’s girls state semifinalist basketball team will be asked to play big roles this year for the volleyball team. Maehlman is hoping some will assume leadership roles on a team that has eight seniors.
Maehlman said once the leadership comes, the team should be heading in the right direction.
“Right now, it is not where it should be,” he said. “We have about 2-3 girls play volleyball as their main sport. Leadership is going to be huge because that is where we struggled last season. No one really wanted to step up.”
Because of past success, players say expectations are high.
“There is always pressure,” Arnold said. “We have a lot to live up to. You never want to be that team that lets the past players down.”
Senior Briana Benson agreed.
“We all have to step it up,” said Benson, who is a standout on the school’s basketball team. “We have to play up to our potential.”
Limiting mistakes is another facet that Maehlman has been working on this season. Since a large portion of the team plays other sports, not many get year-round volleyball training.
“All the coaches have always told me that athletically, we are the best team in the state,” Maehlman said. “We just need to get our fundamentals down. I think we have an opportunity to be good. I keep preaching to our basketball girls that should bring the same intensity in volleyball.
“I think some are a little shy since this is not their main sport. I’ve told them that they are athletes, and it shouldn’t matter.”