Big expectations for Lady Oilers volleyball this season

PEARLAND — It has been 23 years since Pearland head volleyball coach John Turner took over the reigns at Pearland High School. Since that time, Turner has developed one of the more successful programs in the state of Texas and it appears that this year's team could be considered one of his best teams ever.

"I'm excited to see the growth of this team throughout the upcoming year," Turner said. "I know we are considered one of the top teams in the area and state, but I want to keep my players focused on the prize at hand and that is winning the next match."

Pearland is coming off one of their best season's in school history with a 41-7 overall record. The Lady Oilers will enter the 2015 season as the defending District 22-6A champions after posting a sparkling 16-0 mark in 2014. And they are favored as the team to beat for the district crown this season.

But what is really exciting for Turner is he will boast some of the most talented girls he has ever seen take the floor in his 23 years.

Leading the way will be junior setter/outside hitter 6'4" Brooke Botkin who has already been selected as the pre-season "Player of the Year" for the Greater Houston Volleyball Coaches Association and VYPE Magazine FAB 50 in the Greater Houston Area.

Botkin was selected to the USAV Youth National Team this summer where she spent 12 days training with the top 33 players in the nation in her age group.

"Brooke was named to the top team playing as a setter/hitter and has a shot at making the International Youth National Team in 2016," Turner said. "She is going to be our 'go to' player to terminate the ball for our team and now this year she will be providing setting the offense as well.

She and Caroline Shecterle have been having outstanding off-season workouts leading the team in a much quicker tempo offense."

Botkin put up some incredible numbers last year with 471 kills; 323 digs; 65 aces; and 78 blocks.

Another player that Turner will be counting on is 6'4" junior middle blocker Sam Costello who had 167 kills and 109 blocks last season.

"Sam is probably the most improved player on this team," Turner said. "She has become stronger in her blocking skills by working on her lateral movement and quickness overall. She will play a big role on offense."

Senior Caroline Shecterle is going to be another key to Pearland's success. The 5'7" setter had 612 assists and 312 digs in 2014.

"When I think of the Iron Horse Award (for high work ethic), the name Caroline Shecterle comes to my mind first and foremost," Turner said. "Caroline loves the game and she wants her team to be successful and win.

"She is a born leader, has fierce passion for perfection, and she is the spark plug for this team. She has great composure and is blessed with talent that she does not take for granted."

Senior outside hitter Hanna Ofczarzak is another starter that will be a key player for Turner this season. The 6'0" veteran registered 312 kills and 45 blocks last year and she is one of the more talented players in the state.

"Hannah played right side for us last year and makes that switch to become an OH for us in 2015," Turner said. "She hits probably one of the heaviest balls around in high school and has worked to become a more efficient all around hitter. I have all the confidence in the world in Hannah and believe that she can be that other terminator on our team to lead us on offense.

"She has been selected to the GHVCA/VYPE Magazine FAB 50 Team as a senior. This has motivated Hannah to want a state championship even more."

Senior libero Amanda Chapa is another key to the Lady Oilers after she had 875 digs and 64 aces last year.

"Amanda is the heart and soul of our defense and serve receive," Turner said. "She is our libero and partners with Kylie Napoleon (DS) as one of the top tandems in the area and perhaps the state in all around ball control. Amanda is co-captain with Caroline Shecterle and they both possess that ability to keep their composure in tact and be fearless leaders during crucial moments on the court.

"Amanda has a high IQ for the game of volleyball strategically being able to read hitters and also trust her instincts on the court. As a coach, it has been an honor to be able to coach her and proud to know that she represents our volleyball program as an ultimate role model as a player."

Pearland also will have some strong returning letterman including 5'6" senior Kylie Napoleon who had 286 digs and 32 aces last year; 5'6" senior Kayleigh Laitkep who had 177 digs and 17 aces; and 5'9" senior Riley Murdock who had 45 kills and 51 blocks.

"As a coach, I am very fortunate to have two players on my team at any time that could step up and play libber consistently when called upon," Turner said. "Kylie and Amanda Chapa are like I said before two of the top two tandems in the area and state and prove it every day in practice by making incredible digs and passing at a high efficiency rate.

"Kylie is so important to our serve receive primary passers with her consistent passing percentages throughout the year."

"Kayleigh is right there with Sam Costello as probably one of the most improved players on the team," Turner noted. "She worked hard in off-season and has fine-tuned her passing and digging skills to become a very important DS for our defense.

"She reads the hitter extremely well and makes some incredible digs that motivates her teammates to work even harder to win."

Turner also pointed out that he also has several other players that could also be key players this season including 5'11" sophomore middle blocker Nora Uwake, 5'8 sophomore outside hitter Sarah Wright, Grace Lee, Brianna Garcia, 5'11 junior Annie Williams, and 5'10 sophomore Morgan DeBorde.

"We will not hesitate to place the best players at all levels no matter what their classification to make the program strong overall," Turner pointed out. "We are very excited about the upcoming year!"

Pearland is the favorite to capture the district title again, but Turner points out that Alvin, Dawson, Manvel, and Dobie will be strong playoff contenders in 2015.