by Roger Gordon
Adam Hamad would love nothing more than for his Tallmadge volleyball team to pick up where it left off last season.
The Lady Blue Devils won eight of their last 10 matches a year ago and advanced to a Division II district semifinal. Tallmadge lost to Canal Fulton Northwest 20-25, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-13.
The Lady Blue Devils finished with a 12-12 overall record and tied for third with a 5-7 record in the Suburban League American Division.
"Last year, the whole idea of getting the girls to buy into the program at first was kind of hard because it was my first year here," Hamad said. "But they adapted well. And now they see their potential. Our three main goals are to win our division, win districts and have a 20-win season."
Leading the way for Tallmadge, which lost no seniors to graduation, will be senior outside hitter and co-captain, Jessica Herman.
"Jessica was our kill leader last year," Hamad said. "She's a great all-around player. She has high energy and is fun to watch."
Junior defensive specialist Sydney Schertzinger is another top Lady Blue Devil.
"Sydney has a great mentality for the game," Hamad said. "She's a player who covers a lot of court. She'll dive to get anything.
"She's also a leader. She'll let the girls know what's going on."
Freshman setter Ameilia Perdue has made a big splash thus far.
"Ameilia came in not knowing what to expect what was going to happen with the program this year," Hamad said. "She's a phenomenal player. She's definitely someone to look out for.
"She played Junior Olympic volleyball and travel ball on the national level this past summer. It seems as if she's been on the team a long time. I expect great things from her. She has a great attitude and always wants to learn."
Hamad mentioned three other players -- senior middle blockers Jamie McGhee and Sydnee East and sophomore outside hitter/middle hitter Alex Perrin -- who all have a tremendous command of the court.
Seniors Olivia Ayres, a defensive specialist, and co-captain Brittney Harris, an outside hitter, will see plenty of action.
Other team members include senior defensive specialist Ashley Lane and sophomore defensive specialist/setter Jessica Garbinsky.
Other freshmen are middle hitter/outside hitter Celeste Andrico, outside hitters Sydney Kirker and Jillian Catalano, middle hitter Rory Murphy and setter/outside hitter Katie Seeker.
"They're a hard-working bunch," Hamad said. "Our saying for this season is 'The Time Is Now.' The girls, especially the seniors, all have plenty of varsity experience.
"They've all been friends for quite some time and now they're ready to take it to the next level.
"I think they're going to come out and surprise a lot of people."
Kara Louis and Melissa Bush are the assistant coaches.
Tallmadge is scheduled to open the season Aug. 25 at non-league foe Massillon Perry. The match begins at 7 p.m.