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Prep volleyball: Salyer excited about opportunity

If ever there was a perfect time for the ongoing three-week approved summer practice period for high school athletes, it came for the Charleston Catholic volleyball program.

The Irish hired their new volleyball coach just 10 days prior to the beginning of the period that concludes at the end of the week.

Leisha Salyer accepted the position on June 1, and the 23-year-old Ohio native jumped right into the fire when practice began June 10.

Salyer was happy for the opportunity presented to her when Catholic AD Bill Gillispie offered her the job.

"I was very excited because it is very rare you come out college and get offered a position such as this," Salyer said. "It was amazing. (Sports studies) is my major so it was exactly what I want to do with my life.

"This year I coached two girls from Charleston Catholic and their parents gave me a call and indicated they needed a coach. I got a call from the athletic director and we talked. I was interviewed a couple times and was hired on June 1."

Salyer played volleyball at West Virginia State for four years and began her coaching career at the Charleston Volleyball Club before being an assistant coach last season at her alma mater under Yellow Jacket coach Shannon Gerencir.

Salyer realizes she is entering a successful program that carries with it high expectations every year. The Irish won Class A volleyball state titles in 2009 and 2010.

"It's a little nerve-wracking because they are used to a great season," Salyer said. "Everybody is amazing, though. I have got to know the kids, the parents, and the school. Everyone has been so helpful.

During the three-week practice period, Salyer has been hard at work trying to get her system in with the players, and the Irish seem to be catching on quickly.

The Irish hosted the Summer Spike Fest  on Saturday. Catholic finished third among the nine participants, giving Salyer high hopes for the upcoming season.

"The girls started practice and I feel confident in what we can do," Salyer said. "I couldn't be more proud finishing third in our first tournament. It was good to see how they would react in a game-like setting.

Last year's Catholic team was hit hard with injuries, as two of their best players in Catherine Bandak and Hannah Gallian suffered season-ending knee injuries. Salyer won't have Bandak available, but hopes to have Gallian back sometime throughout the 2013 season.

"Catherine decided not to play because she is focusing on basketball, and Hannah will get her doctor's release on September 1," Salyer said.

"We don't want to push her coming off a serious injury, but she wants to play in college, so she might try and play some."


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