With a roster that likely will be composed entirely of underclassmen, it's fitting that the New Albany High School girls volleyball team is going with youth to fill its coaching vacancy.

With a roster that likely will be composed entirely of underclassmen, it's fitting that the New Albany High School girls volleyball team is going with youth to fill its coaching vacancy.

Josh Lee, who played at Ball State from 2001-03 and coached at Ossian (Ind.) Norwell for the last three seasons, was introduced to the team last Tuesday. Lee takes over for Karen Morlan, who resigned last month after coaching the team for the past five seasons.

Athletics director Rex Reeder said that considering New Albany will be competing in Division I in all sports by the 2009-10 season, it was crucial to hire a coach who can get the team to play at the highest level.

"The coaches we hire, and I think we've been very fortunate with the staff that we have, with the department going from Division II and III in the past to Division I, we want coaches who can help us compete in Division I at the highest level," he said.

Lee found out about the opening through his fiance, Becky Neglia, who has been an assistant at New Albany. Though he knew just a few people at the school beyond Neglia, he developed a good impression of the team and the school.

"I had heard tons of great things about everyone there, and they had heard a little about me from Becky," Lee said. "They had heard a little more about me, maybe, but I had heard a lot about them as well."

Lee played high school volleyball in Fort Wayne, Ind., and was the MVP of the city in 1998, his senior year. He put his volleyball career on hold for the next two years as he played basketball at Bethel College in Indiana, but he soon realized that his passion for volleyball was still alive.

Lee transferred to Ball State and walked on to the volleyball team, where he played out his final three years of NCAA eligibility. Lee typically played in a reserve role but did start a few games in his senior season, when Ball State was ranked in the top 15 in the country. Ball State also reached the NCAA final four in 2002.

"At Ball State, they were really focused on teaching the game, not just skills," Lee said. "It's really about teaching the game, and that's why they're such a successful program."

Lee was an assistant at Yorktown (Ind.) during his senior season at Ball State and was an assistant the next year at Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian. In 2005, he took the coaching job at Norwell.

Playing in the the 3A classification, the second highest of four in Indiana, Norwell won its sectional in Lee's first two seasons -- Indiana's sectional title is roughly equivalent to a district title in Ohio. Last year, Norwell was 23-9 overall but did not win the sectional.

At New Albany, Lee will take on a team that is young but not short on experience. Though the Eagles do not expect to have any seniors on this season's roster, all but two players should be back from last year. Because most players were in their first year on varsity last fall, the Eagles struggled to a 7-17 overall record, but they have had success in recent years. The Eagles posted winning records each year from 2003-05 and shared the MSL-Ohio Division title in 2004.

The Eagles return four full-time starters in junior setter Jen Graves, sophomore middle-hitter Olivia Grant, sophomore middle-hitter Elyse Naddaff and junior outside-hitter Anna Irvine.

Other expected returning letterwinners include juniors Stephanie Siegenthaler, Jen Rowley and Ashley May and sophomore Madi Miller.

At New Albany, Lee said he plans to impart not only knowledge of the game, but also his enthusiasm for the sport.

"I demand that my teams are well-trained and well-skilled, so (fans) should expect a team that has great ball control," Lee said. "They should expect to see a very competitive group of girls out there on the court with great focus. Also, it's hard to do this, but I try to teach passion as well, just a passion for playing the game."