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Aurora High's new volleyball coach looks to 5 to lead squad

by STEVE BATKO | CORRESPONDENT Published: August 17, 2016 1:00 AM
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Aurora -- Hoping to leverage good experience with promising youth, first-year head coach Tyler Price wants the Aurora High volleyball program to succeed.

Price, the junior varsity coach at Stow-Munroe Falls for the past four years, wants those successes to happen both on and off the court.

Taking over for former coach Rachael Bailes (74-55 overall in her career), Price also has spent the past five years at the IGNITE Volleyball Club in Twinsburg.

"I was coaching various age groups that have prepared me to build an entire volleyball program," emphasized Price about IGNITE.

Last year, Aurora was 4-6 in the inaugural season of the Suburban League American Conference.

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The Greenmen open the season Aug. 25 at home against Mentor before kicking off league play Aug. 30 at Kent Roosevelt and hosting Barberton on Sept. 1.

Excited to take over the Greenmen program, Price inherits five returning players from a squad that went 10-11 overall.

Returning players are led by senior twin sister captains April and Anna Davis. April is a veteran setter, while Anna has been a fixture at the libero position.

"I think Aurora is ready to be successful for the next couple of years," noted Price. "We bring back a lot of experience and talent at the varsity level."

The team's tone could be initiated by Anna Davis.

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"Of the returners, she is the one with the biggest task," said the coach. "We'll look to her to run the entire offense and be the leader on the court.

"HER SISTER April is not afraid to do what is best for the team. Last year, she set along with her sister. This year she has filled a position of need, switching libero. She'll be our vocal leader and defensive ball hawk."

Sydney McDowell, a tested junior middle hitter, is back, along with junior defensive specialist Jordan Parks and sophomore outside hitter Morgan Copley.

"We expect to put ourselves in positions that will allow us to be successful both on and off the court," pointed out Price. "Jordan will be a catalyst for our defense off of the bench.

"The returnees who will shoulder the bulk of the scoring will be McDowell and Copley.

"Morgan is the big gun who has the ability to score from any position. Sydney will be the one to control the middle, and will be a major offensive threat and the start of how our defense sets up."

Depth may be a key.

Top newcomers include senior right-side hitter Emily Stepanek, senior defensive specialist Purdita Irving, junior defensive specialist Sarah Azzarello, junior outside hitter Julianna Ritter and sophomore middle hitter / blocker Brooke Besinger.

All of the newcomers came through the junior varsity system, and Stepanek has some varsity experience.

"We also hope to bring up a couple of JV players and get them some varsity experience when the time allows it," said the mentor.

Offensively, Aurora will rely on Ritter, Stepanek and Besinfger among the new players.

"ALL THREE of them have shown the willingness to learn their positions, and know they are expected to not just be on the court, but contribute offensively" Price said.

The defense will be bolstered by Irving and Azzarello.

"Purdita is the loudest one in the gym and her enthusiasm will be used to control the emotions of her team," said Price. "Sarah will be used whenever we struggle in the back row. She has shown the ability to come in off the bench and be a defensive pick-me-up. It will be nice to see all of these girls grow and contribute."

As for the Suburban League, Price knows it is loaded.

"It's one of the toughest leagues in the state," he said. "The past couple of years there have been two or more teams ranked in the top 25 in Ohio.

"In the American Conference, Revere has been the team to beat the past couple of seasons. That does not look to change. We expect to be in the mix for conference champions at the end of the season."

Price also talked about the other half of the SL -- the National Conference.

"When you look at the other side, there are a lot of tough teams," he said. "They have made deep postseason runs the past couple of years.

"We only play one of those -- Stow [Sept. 3 on the road at 10 a.m.]. That will be a good measuring stick to see how the Greenmen play this season."

Assisting Price is junior varsity coach Sharri Durdel and freshman coach Shane Susanek. "I've brought along two people I have coached and played with over the past couple of years," Price said.

AHS will compete this year at the Mayfield tournament Oct. 8, likely playing three games.

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