Shawnee Heights High School in suburban Topeka, Kansas has hired a new volleyball coach. Sami McHenry is a 2009 graduate of the school, and at just 26-years old she has been named the new head coach just a week before the start of practice.
McHenry replaces outgoing coach Laura Curry, who resigned after winning a Kansas Class 5A state championship (the second largest classification in the state) last season. Curry had a 114-17 record in 3 seasons as the team’s head coach. The team had two 3rd-place finishes and a state title in her tenure.
“I have coached club volleyball for the last four years and all my teams were high school girls,” said McHenry, a sixth-grade teacher at Shawnee Heights Elementary, in an interview with cjonline.com. “Two years I was with seniors and the last two I was with freshmen and sophomores. I helped Laura Curry with camp two years ago, so I was able to meet some of the girls through that, too.”
The team will have a short time to get accustomed to their new coach before their first huge test of the season. Their first game of the season is against defending 6A state champions Olathe Northwest, and their second is against St. James Academy – the team they beat in last year’s 5A final.
“We’ve got a tough schedule, but I want to play tough teams,” McHenry said. “I think it’s going to show the girls real quick that they’re going to have to step up and fill some spots that are missing.”
The team graduated First-Team AVCA All-American opposite Jazz Sweet, who is beginning her career at Nebraska this season, and Second-Team AVCA All-American middle hitter Megan Cooney, who is playing at Illinois. In fact, of the team’s 5 players who recorded at least 2 kills in last year’s state championship game, 4 will graduate. The one returner is Amaya Tillman, who had 6 kills, an ace, and 2 total blocks in that 2-1 win. The 6’3″ middle hitter will be just a junior this season.