Scott Ebright likes what he has seen in his early days leading the Johnstown-Monroe High School girls volleyball program.
Ebright recently was approved as coach by the school board and met with his players July 18. He admired the work ethic they displayed.
"The kids want to work and want to learn," Ebright said. "They realize they are not the tallest team in the (LCL) and have to do things to compensate for that. They are willing to work hard to do that."
Ebright has coached in the sport for more than 30 years, including at Columbus School for Girls (1983-87) and Grandview (1988-91). He coached boys at Culver (Ind.) Academy (1996) and Thomas Worthington (1997-2006) and was a boys assistant at Thomas from 2010-13 before returning as the Cardinals' head coach this past spring.
"(Ebright) has a wealth of knowledge for volleyball and will be a great benefit for the program," said former athletics director Mike Carter, who was on the selection committee.
Ebright will be assisted by Chancey Christopher, who coaches middle school track at Johnstown.
"We had a camp (July 21-24) and had 22 girls show up," said Ebright, who replaced five-year coach Heather Ashbrook. "Walking in, I had no idea what to expect, but they came ready. I want to get them to look at volleyball differently.
"The girls have been very receptive to what we have offered. They are sponges and want to soak things in. It's great to see them try different techniques and seeing how they start to understand that it can help them play the game."
Last season, the Johnnies finished 2-21 overall after losing to Centennial 25-23, 21-25, 25-18, 25-18 in the second round of the Division II district tournament. They finished 10th (0-18) in the LCL behind Licking Valley (16-2), Newark Catholic (15-3), Granville (14-4), Heath (12-6), Lakewood (12-6), Utica (8-10), Licking Heights (5-13), Watkins Memorial (5-13) and Northridge (3-15).
"One of the things I have noticed is that we are in a 10-team league where we play everybody twice," Ebright said. "That means 18 of our 22 matches are taken and it only gives us four non-league matches. I'm still looking for some preseason scrimmages."
The Johnnies open their schedule with a league match Aug. 19 at home against Northridge. Their non-league matches are at Nelsonville-York (Sept. 6), at Briggs (Sept. 13) and at home against Briggs (Sept. 27) and Beechcroft (Oct. 4).
Expected to return are seniors Adaline Almendinger (setter), Leanna Lehner (outside/middle hitter), Amanda Payne (right side/outside hitter), Claire Slader (middle hitter) and Quinn Weinberger (defensive specialist) and juniors Tori Helmke (outside/middle hitter) and Emily Wilson (right side/outside hitter).
"The kids communicate well and they are working hard to learn what we are teaching them," Ebright said. "We have to build trust. I have to trust when I put them on the court that they will know what to do when the ball is hit to them. They have to trust that I will give them the skills and knowledge needed to win."