TUPPER LAKE - Chris Savage will be replacing Diane Helms as the coach of Tupper Lake's varsity volleyball program but, like Helms, Savage is a familiar face to the players.
Savage has been both a modified and junior varsity coach for the Lumberjacks, mentoring most of the girls over the years.
Savage is optimistic this season because he feels the team has excellent chemistry.
Captain Kristen Bickford and coach Chris Savage perform a drill at during a recent Tupper Lake volleyball practice.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
"I think we're off to a great start. I see a lot of potential in this group of girls," Savage said. "This is like the tightest team in terms of the way they work together and get along and respect each other. There's a tremendous sense of family with these girls."
The team will be led by a trio of senior captains: Julia Bradley, Kristen Bickford and Amber Pickering.
Savage said the players were chosen unanimously by their teammates.
"It was a perfect choice," he said.
Savage said the teammates all commented on the "the real leadership skills that those athletes have."
Bradley will be starting at outside hitter, with Bickford at middle blocker and Pickering as the defensive specialist.
They will be complemented by players such as Kelly Doolen, another outside hitter, Sarah Amell, as the setter and Jessica Friend, an outside hitter.
Overall, the team will feature seven seniors, six juniors and a sophomore.
Savage said his goal as coach this season is to work on having the players really learn the game.
"What I really want to do is run some more sophisticated offensive and defensive plays," he said. "I would like some of these girls to have the option to go on and become critical parts of college programs."
Savage sees several players as having the potential to play at local Division III colleges.
As for this year, he said the team's strength is going to be the offense.
"I think our offense is going to be extremely strong as long as we can pass in rhythm," Savage said. "I think once we can establish our offense and get it into place, it's going to be one of our greatest strengths."