Whitehall-Yearling Roundup: Coach Kirsten Turner brings positivity to Rams
First-year coach Kirsten Turner is hoping to bring some stability to the Whitehall-Yearling girls volleyball program.
Turner is the Rams' fourth coach since the 2018 season. She replaced Tierra Copley, who took over the program in the offseason but stepped down Aug. 2 because of family commitments.
Copley replaced Haley Bright, who coached the Rams for one season, going 2-19 a year ago.
Bright followed Danielle Jackson, who led the program for 10 seasons.
"The most important thing is to connect with the girls and bond with them because they respond to the bond," said Turner, who is also the school's softball coach.
Turner was the junior varsity volleyball coach last season and expected to remain in that role until Copley's resignation. She then discussed the opening with athletics director Bill Hughett.
"We were both a little hesitant knowing that I was a head coach for a different sport, so taking on the head coach roles for two different sports was going to be harder," Turner said. "It was an adjustment for all of us, but it's been an easy transition since I did have that rapport with (the players)."
Although the Rams lost their first two matches, Turner has seen some positives.
Whitehall led early in the first set and by as many as eight points in the third set before dropping a 25-15, 25-16, 26-24 decision to visiting Columbus School for Girls on Sept. 8.
The Rams opened the season and MSL-Ohio Division play with a 25-8, 25-9, 25-4 loss at Bexley on Sept. 1.
The top returnee is junior setter Mya Fuller, who was honorable all-league last season.
"(Turner) definitely pushes us harder than our previous coaches did, but she also knows when to have fun," Fuller said. "She's a good coach all around and I'm really happy that I have her as coach this year."
Other returnees are seniors Kylie Brown (libero) and Kyland Wooden (outside hitter), and the roster also includes juniors Ta'Mar Brathwaite (setter), Vanessa Danner (defensive specialist), Timree Dhinaa, (defensive specialist) and Kiarra Hodge (middle hitter) and freshman Kye Jones (all-around).
The Rams are looking to improve on a 0-12 record in the MSL-Ohio a year ago.
"We have a stronger bond this season, which I think the communication they have and the bond they have is definitely going to lead them to more success," Turner said.
Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Whitehall canceled four scrimmages and two early season non-league matches and is playing all home matches without spectators.
A key loss to graduation was middle hitter Kaila Daugherty, who was second-team all-league last season.
At a glance
*Coach: Kirsten Turner, first season
*Top players: Kylie Brown, Mya Fuller and Kyland Wooden
*Key loss: Kaila Daugherty
*Last season: 2-19 overall
*2019 MSL-Ohio standings: Worthington Christian (12-0), Bexley (9-3), Columbus Academy (8-4), Buckeye Valley (6-6), Grandview (4-8), Columbus School for Girls (3-9), Whitehall (0-12)
*2019 postseason: Lost to Utica 25-3, 25-12, 25-7 in second round of Division II district tournament