Compton takes the reins of MHS program –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Another new coaching era begins this fall at Manchester High School as Kaci Compton, an MHS graduate herself, takes over the reins of the Lady Hounds’ volleyball program. Compton played four years of varsity volleyball at MHS, graduating in 2008.
“I’ve been wanting to coach for awhile and the timing just never worked out,” said Compton. “This opening came up and I was planning to go part-time with my other job and it worked out. I’ve been wanting to coach since I left just because I love the sport and I love the school.”
Compton’s 2016 Lady Hounds squad will be a young team, with only two seniors on the roster, Hannah Grimes and Cassie Campbell, both of whom have taken on leadership roles in the early practice sessions.
“I was a nervous wreck the first day of open gym,” says Compton, and the two seniors stepped up and started the team stretching and they have been leading the girls ever since then. The two seniors are best friends and they lead like that.”
With a young team, the hope is that the team will improve as the season progresses, learning first to play as a group.
“I hope that we keep improving,” said coach Compton. “We have come a long way since our first open gym, and we have a lot of freshman who have improved dramatically since the first few days, a lot of that due to the work of the upperclassmen. We have a lot of just raw talent and with the right communication and strategy we can have a pretty good season.”
Compton will rely heavily on a big group of sophomores, led by Aaliyah Smith, who steps into the role of the setter for the varsity squad. “Aaliyah will likely be our main setter and sophomore Abby McFarland also brings back varsity experience to the team. Setting is a tough job and takes a tough personality and I think Aaliyah can handle it.”
The two seniors and two above mentioned sophomores will be joined by juniors McKinlee Grooms and Katie Sandlin on the varsity squad. “McKinlee is just great all over,” says Compton. “She is great at the net, she is a great passer, and she is a good setter too. Katie brings us experience and great athletic ability.”
One of the big holes that Compton must fill is that of the departed Morgan Johnons, who was an absolute beast at the net for four years, shattering numerous school volleyball records on her way to a college career beginning this fall at West Virginia Wesleyan.
To replace the big hitting Johnson, Compton will look in number of directions.
“We have a lot of good, consistent hitters but I I won’t say that we will have anyone knocking it out 24/7,” says Compton. “Junior Alyssa Hoskins is very consistent on the outside while Katie Sandlin, Hannah Grimes, and McKinlee Grooms are all good middle hitters. When Abby McFarland gets in a groove, she can be unstoppable at the net. Junior Gabi Lainhart will also be tough at the net for us and will be one of our top servers.”
“Gabi will be one of our leaders too and she leads with her fun personality and makes it fun when she attempts to show the underclassmen how something is done correctly. She is the person you want next to you on the court.”
Compton will be assisted on the sidelines by another new face as Jessica Lainhart takes over as the Lady Hounds JV coach.
“We are trying to get our girls off to a good start this year,” adds Lainhart. “The girls will get down on themselves so a good start will be a big key for them.”
Being new to the coaching ranks, Compton is not too familiar with the competition that her team will face in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference in 2016.
“To be honest, I have done a lot more research into my own girls than I have other teams,” said the Manchester head coach. “We know North Adams is just big all the way around. I think we have the varsity talent, it is just reining it in and making it work.”
“ The talent is there without a doubt if we can just get the girls to believe in themselves from the beginning of each match, we will be successful.”
Tentatively, the Manchester High School varsity volleyball program, varsity and JV, will consist of the following girls: Freshmen- Sammie Young, Melanie Thatcher, Mackenzie Leadingham, Jasmine Stanfield, Kylie Abbott, Kalyn Rideout, Sarah Purdon, Lexi Foster, Madison Jones, and Madison Payne; Sophomores- Kaitlyn Palmer, Abby McFarland, Macy Huron, Jocelyn Barajas, Hannah Bundy, Brooklyn Unger, Madison Young, and Aaliyah Smith; Juniors- Alyssa Hoskins, Sierra Thatcher, McKinlee Grooms, Gabi Lainhart, Abby Henschen, Brittany Fanning, Katie Sandlin, and Karemiah Brooks; Seniors- Hannah Grimes and Cassie Campbell.