BY COLLEEN MCALEER
“Last season was a good year, we finished 8-4, went to the playoffs, and won. I wish we could have everyone back, but we have a good core of returners, I am happy where we are,” said Tunkhannock co-coach Jeff Howell.
The Tigers graduated five seniors last year, and three of them were in the starting lineup.
Howell, along with Tunkhannock volleyball icon and co-coach Judd Holdridge, will have four starters return, and six boys with varsity experience. That includes only two seniors, Avery Billings and foreign exchange student Joao Oldoni.
The staff, who have not yet picked their captains, is looking for a big season from sophomore Andrew Slacktish, a sophomore who played junior high last year.
“We are obviously hoping to return to the district playoffs, to make a run at the district title,” said Howell.
Junior Paul Binner agreed with his coach by saying, “Ideally we can win districts. We need to work hard, and come together as a team to accomplish our goal. It all will come down to working together.”
To get there, the Tigers are working on passing and services at practices, as well as engaging in an offseason jumping program. The coaches also worked with the upcoming younger players.
Howell added, “We will be strong in hitting and blocking. I mean, come on, when you have a player like 6-foot-8 Avery (Billings). We will have to fill the void, but we can do it.”
Citing all games as big games this season, Howell pointed out that the team will head to Elizabethtown College for a tournament. The orange and black team will also play some larger schools, like Whitehall and Freedom Area from southern Pennsylvania.
“In the end, I want the boys to be respectful and learn the value of hard work. They will learn that you need to work for what you want. If they want the same success as last year, they have to work for it,” added Howell.
The Tigers open their season at Freedom Area on Saturday, Mar. 16.
Roster: Seniors Avery Billings and Joao Oldoni. Juniors Paul Binner, Donovan Curley, Jacob Keeler, and Trejon Turner. Sophomores Luke Carpenter and Andrew Carpenter. Freshmen Merik Bertram, Kieran Curley, Stephen Ell, Jakob Steffy, and Isaiah Turner.
Schedule: Mar. 16 at Freedom Area, TBA; Mar. 23 Triscrimmage at home, TBA; Mar. 26 vs. Crestwood; Mar. 28 at Hanover Area, Mar. 30 at Wyoming Valley West Tournament, TBA; Apr. 2 vs. Delaware Valley; Apr. 4 at Wyoming Valley West; Apr. 5 at Whitehall, TBA; Apr. 8 vs. North Pocono; Apr. 10 vs. Mountain View; Apr. 13 at Elizabethtown Tournament; Apr. 15 at Berwick Area; Apr. 17 vs. Dallas; Apr. 22 at Coughlin; Apr. 24 vs. Lake-Lehman; Apr. 26 vs. Freedom Area; Apr. 29 at Nanticoke Area; May 1 at Hazleton Area; May 6 vs. Holy Redeemer. All games begin at 4:30 unless otherwise noted.