By Carey Phillips 

Practice for Smoky Mountain’s volleyball team will begin at 9 a.m. today (Thursday) in the school gym for all players in grades 9-12.

“I’m excited,” Coach Megan Dezarn said. “The girls have really worked hard. We’ve gone multiple days a week all summer long. We went to Clemson’s camp and a bunch of open scrimmages, so we’ve got to see a lot of volleyball. The girls have been really dedicated this summer and coming out. We’ve had good numbers coming to weights and workouts. I’m excited about all the returners and all the new faces. I think it’s going to be a pretty promising season.”

Returnees who were in the regular rotation on last year’s 13-13 team include senior hitter Faith Shuler, junior setter Ella Gamble, and junior hitters Natalie Parris, Melanie Hoyle and Charley Haney.

Dezarn noted the team lost several back row players to graduation. She is hoping some of the hitters will be able to play all the way around this year.

The season will open Aug. 19 at home against Murphy. A multi-team scrimmage is set for Aug. 10 at the Xcel Sportsplex in Fletcher.

The coaching staff is back with Angela Chambers as varsity assistant, Melissa Hill as head JV coach and varsity assistant and Casey Day as JV assistant.

“We’re excited to get started,” Dezarn said. “The girls are pumped, and I’m pumped. We’re looking forward to, hopefully, a winning season.”

The schedule is as follows:

Aug. 19 – Murphy; 20 – at Hayesville; 22 – Robbinsville; 26 – Swain; 28 – at Erwin.

Sept. 3 – Owen; 5 – at Highlands; 9 – Erwin; 10 – at Pisgah; 12 – Hendersonville; 16 – at Robbinsville; 17 – at Brevard; 19 – at East Henderson; 24 – Franklin; 25 – at Rabun Gap, Georgia; 26 – Pisgah; 30 – at Murphy.

Oct. 1 – at Hendersonville; 3 – Brevard; 7 – at Owen; 8 – East Henderson; 10 – at Franklin.