Two local volleyball coaches are in the early stages coaching their teams while another is beginning her 25th season at coach.
Volleyball season starts Monday, and the three local teams begin on Tuesday.
Western Hills coach Kristi Buffenmyer, who led her team to a 21-13 record last year, is the veteran among the local coaches.
Frankfort High’s Eileen Butts is in her third year as the Lady Panthers’ varsity head coach, and Dale Adkins begins his second season as the head coach at Franklin County.
The Lady Wolverines made it to the 11th Region Tournament last year as runners-up in the 41st District Tournament.
“Things are going really well,” Buffenmyer said. “We’ve added quite a few freshmen, and we’ve got our entire starting lineup returning.”
This year’s seniors are Makinley Slone, Amelia Wilson, Sydney Mellon, Savannah Kennedy and Jasmine Moore, and the juniors are Lexi Taylor, Alexa Barker and Nicole Shouse.
The team also has two sophomores, Fernie Fuentes and Allie Dick.
“We’re trying to push the girls to take the next step and not settle for what they were able to do last year,” Buffenmyer said. “We want to play a faster offense and keep our opponents out of their stuff.
“Our philosophy has always been get the ball back over the net, no matter what. We’re really scrappy this year, and hopefully that scrappiness will pull us through.”
Western Hills opens its season Tuesday at Madison Southern. Its first home match is Thursday against 41st District newcomer Great Crossing, and its first tournament will be Aug. 23-24 at Boyle County.
WHHS is hosting its own tournament this year. The nine-team event on Sept. 14 will be an ovarian cancer awareness tournament, and all proceeds raise during the tournament will benefit Baptist Health Foundation GYN Oncology for women with little to no resources for treatment expenses.
Adkins took over the FCHS program not long before last season started.
The Lady Flyers went 12-19, and Adkins is looking for a better season this year.
“I’ve got a lot of girls with returning with varsity experience,” he said. “We have some spots to fill, it seems like everyone grew about two inches. We have a player who is 6-0 on varsity, and we have three or four who are 5-10, 5-11.”
The team’s seniors are Rosa Kennedy, Joy Bebe and Laryn Bishop.
Franklin County opened with five losses last year before going on a 6-1 run.
“Our schedule last year in the early part of the season was pretty brutal,” Adkins said. “We played hard, but I didn’t have a lot of preseason with the team. This year I feel prepared. We’ve gone through conditioning and the weight room.”
Adkins had 54 girls come out for this year’s team, and he has 34 in the program with the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams.
This year’s team has eight juniors — Sydney Bailey, Makenna Deaton, Natalie Dufour, Madie Graves, Brooke Johnston, Linley Long, Lily Pennington and Nicole Tomes.
FCHS opens its season at home Tuesday against East Jessamine, followed by a home match against Lexington Christian on Wednesday.
The Lady Flyers’ first tournament is the Champions of the Mountains Classic Aug. 24 in Pikeville, and they’re hosting the Capital City Classic Aug. 30-31 at multiple sites.
“I’m feeling really good about this year,” Adkins said. “They’re working hard, and I just feel more prepared.”
In 2017, Frankfort’s first year of varsity competition, the Lady Panthers didn’t win a match.
Last year FHS posted a 5-32 record. This year they’re hoping to continue that momentum.
“We have 28 girls out and will field full varsity, junior varsity and freshman squads without sharing other players,” Butts said.
“Everyone’s back from last year. We have a couple of seventh- and eighth-graders, and that helps us. We don’t really have a feeder program right now.
“We have a pretty strong foundation built. We have more who have played club ball. They’ve played more volleyball than the three months of the high school team.”
The seniors on this year’s team are Gracie Edelen, Alexis Jones, Ainye Rogers, Emily Slone, Carly Sutton, Kiani Tatum and Amber Wilson.
Tatum Williams is the only junior, and Jekylah Cook, Pauline Hancock, Isabella Johnson and Emily Rogers are all sophomores.
Frankfort opens its season at home Tuesday against Danville Christian and stays at home for a match against Danville on Thursday.
“I’m excited; the girls are excited,” Butts said. “They enjoy it, and they can see what they’re building towards.”
FHS is playing in the Capital City Classic Aug. 30-31, and the Lady Panthers are hosting the Frankfort Invitational Tournament on Sept. 21.
“This is a process,” Butts said. “We’d like to take 50% of our matches and have a regional showing.”