Set, serve, spike, suspended: Boys’ volleyball team faces setbacks of new players and a suspended coach

Jenna DeNight, Staff Writer

Flash back to November 13, 2010. The final point could mean winning the game for Palmetto’s girls’ volleyball team at the regional finals; the stakes were high and tension filled the gym.

“At the end of the fifth set, the ref missed a call that decided which team would go to states,” junior Kaley Jaslow said. “Like the rest of the team, our coach got emotional and said things she shouldn’t have. She recognized that her words would not solve anything and apologized for her language even though she was completely justified in being angry since the call was biased and really unjust.”

In the end, the Florida High School Athletic Association decided that volleyball coach Kim Latshaw was suspended for the boys’ volleyball season but the decision is awaiting appeal.

“She can still be at practice,” Athletic Director Yvette McKinney said. “But if they don’t reduce the suspension within the next few weeks she won’t be allowed at the games.”

Assistant Coach Chris Kallinosis will fill in as the head coach while Latshaw remains suspended.

“If the boys come in and choose to work harder because of Latshaw’s suspension, it could almost be a blessing in disguise,” Kallinosis said. “Hopefully they’ll be determined to work harder and focus more during the games.”

Although distressed by Latshaw’s suspension, the team tries to see the silver lining. Luckily most of the boys are already close and familiar with Kallinosis and the team should remain strong.

“My suspension will not affect our team because my assistant coach is a head coach,” Latshaw said. “My boys all know and respect him. We teach the same techniques and believe in the same philosophies.”

This season, as new players work together with the temporary head coach, new relationships will form

As the majority of starters graduated last year, the boys’ volleyball team will have to develop new stars and rise up to the potential of those before them.

“This year’s team only has two players who received regular play time last year,” Latshaw said. “Five out of our six starters graduated last year. However, we had a great bench and JV has some very talented players moving up this year.”

Seniors Kyle Schulz and Daniel Berndt are the two remaining players who received regular playtime last season.

“I think we’re going to have a strong team this year,” Schulz said. “We just need to train hard to beat Southwest; they are our main opponent this season.”

The boys’ volleyball team seems to be constantly reminded of their team leaders who graduated. In spite of this disadvantage, the boys are stepping up their game and practicing hard to accomplish this season’s goals for the team.

“We have a lot to work on, from ball control to contact,” senior Michael Brown said. “There is no way we’re going to live up to our potential if we don’t work on our fundamentals in practice.”

According to Latshaw, senior Michael Palmar knows how to run the offense and has been waiting for his opportunity to start on varsity.

“The thing I’m most looking forward to is being with the kids I started playing with my first year in high school,” Palmar said. “I’ve grown up with these kids and now we have a chance to win big games together.”

In addition to these senior leaders, sophomore Kory Shultz made the high performance team in the off-season and will contribute to this year’s team immediately.

“I’m really excited to be stepping up and contributing to the team,” Kory Schulz said. “I think we’re going to go far this season.”

Berndt expresses his optimism as a team leader as several players previously on the junior varsity team move up to join varsity.

“A lot of people are coming into varsity this year,” Berndt said. “We just have to keep a strong mind when we go to practice and work together as a team.”

Younger athletes, such as junior Eddie Santos, are excited to be joining the more experienced players

“I feel like I’ll get a chance to shine, since varsity is obviously the main focus of the program,” Santos said. “I’d like to run a 6-2 offensive with Michael Palmer. We’re going to have to prove ourselves as a team. It’s not about individuals so it will come together on the court.”

The boys are excited to come together and impress all who may doubt their ability to rise from these obstacles. With high-reaching goals this season, the boys will not disappoint their fans.

“Since the whole program is strong, we will still be a very good team,” Latshaw said. “We plan on winning the district title for the third straight year and competing for the regional and state title as well.