Daria Winckler, the WVC volleyball team’s new head coach, is 23 years old, making her just four or five years older than the players that she’s coaching.
“A lot of people would expect it to feel like more of a teammate thing,” said sophomore outside hitter Chancy Gill, “but she’s done a really god job of earning our respect and showing that she’s here to coach us, not to be our teammate.”
Winckler played for two years at WVC before moving on to Texas A&M International University, where she played in 2011 and 2012. She was hired as WVC’s assistant coach before taking over for Kelly Ketcham in August.
She’s made some changes (“We’re a little bit more of a defensive team this year,” said sophomore Jordan Lautenbach), but overall, she likes what she has to work with.
A young Knights team advanced to postseason play in 2012, even though it didn’t have the services of leading hitter Lautenbach, who missed the second half of the season with a knee injury. Coming into this year, the Knights’ expectations are higher.
“I’ve seen pieces of (what we’re capable of),” Winckler said. “Once the pieces fall together, I think we’ll be a great force. These girls have fire, a competitive edge.”
The Knights haven’t been at full strength yet due to injury and illness, and their record (1-11) reflects those issues. But Winckler is optimistic that her team will improve as the season goes along.
When Lautenbach (back, concussion) returns to the court, she will join Gill as the team’s outside hitters. Sophomores Jessica Watts and Angelena Sahlberg will play the right side, while sophomore Whitney Gay will be the team’s middle blocker.
Freshman Hunter Durham will be the team’s libero, and freshmen Rachel Asano and Brooke Rydman are the setters.
“The sophomores, we all had a taste of the NWAACC (tournament), and we want to get it back,” Gill said. “Basically (we’re) starting fresh — new coaches, new beginning. I think that we can only go up, and we have everything to prove.”