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Prep volleyball: South Charleston's rookie coach is no novice

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The South Charleston softball program seemed to hit a grand slam when they hired Annette Olenchick to be their head coach, along with assistant Andrea Lewis.

Afterall, Olenchick led Sissonville to state softball titles in 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, and 2002. Meanwhile, Lewis was a three-time All-State selection and Gatorade Player of the Year in 2001 for the Indians while winning three championships herself.

However, the softball team isn't the only sport at SC that Lewis is hoping to guide to bigger and better things. Lewis is also the first year volleyball coach for the Black Eagles this season.

Lewis took part in her first Civic Center Volleyball Showcase Wednesday evening at the Charleston Civic Center and was 8-7-2 prior to Wednesday.

"I got the volleyball job first, and then the softball position came open," Lewis said. "Coach O (Olenchick), talking with her, we always said we wanted to get back together. We work so well together and believe in the same things."

Olenchick isn't help coach volleyball, so that reunion will have to wait until the spring, but Lewis couldn't be happier with where she is at.

"South Charleston has treated me so well," Lewis said. "I have had nothing but great support from administration, players, parents, the whole nine. It's been such a great place to be. I never would have dreamed all of this."

While Lewis has plenty of softball playing and coaching experience, this is her first volleyball head coaching position. She has been around the game, playing it in high school at Sissonville, and in leagues.

"I grew up around volleyball when my older sister played," Lewis said. "I always went to her practices and her high school coach would let me practice and be the manager. That is when I found a love for it.

"Throughout high school, I played. I coached with Eddie Fisher (current Sissonville coach) when I first graduated from college. I missed playing. I never thought an opportunity like this would come up. When it happened, I just took it. It all just kind of happened very quickly."

The SC volleyball program has been in flux the last couple seasons with Lewis being the third different coach in the past four seasons. Lewis is hoping to be around for the long haul, though, and build stability.

"Having a new coach so often is tough," Lewis said. "I want to build this program. Where we are this year, I want every year to get better. I want volleyball to be that when the girls are in high school, it's that one thing they can't wait to do."

SC middle hitter Shea Hoffman, who has been around to see the entire coaching carousel, is very happy with Lewis taking over the program. The senior has high hopes of playing collegiately, and is getting several looks already from Mountain East Conference schools.

"I love it, she's (Lewis) really good," Hoffman said. "It's a great environment with her and she always brings the team together. Also, the people that want to play in college, it's a better way of knowing you are preparing for your future. I definitely know the coaches will get us there."

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  • Lewis wasn't the only first year head coach experiencing her first Showcase at the Civic Center Wednesday. Charleston Catholic co-head coach Angela Beblo and the Irish werw 17-4 this season prior to Wednesday.

    Beblo and fellow co-coach Kristin Call have both been assistant coaches for Catholic over the years, but being in charge of the program has been a learning process for the two.

    "It's been an adjustment," Beblo said. "There are a lot of things behind the scenes that you know happen but you aren't responsible for. There's so much work that goes on just to pull the season together. There are a lot of administrative tasks in confirming matches, refs, facilities, and the help at matches."

    Beblo believes both her and Call being around the program, though, has caused a much easier transition for the Irish team.

    "It made things a lot easier," Beblo said. "Being around the program, we already knew the school philosophy, and the girls. It hasn't been that tough of a transition, especially with the help of everyone.

    "Both of our schedules have meshed really well. Our coaching styles are the same. We have coached together so long. There has been a lot of continuity with the girls with the season. We also couldn't do it without our parents. They have been great the entire step of the way."



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