Upperclassmen talent, new coach could bring consistency for Cougars

The coaching carousal might have finally stopped for good at Greenfield-Central.

With four volleyball head coaches (Jamie Andrews, Kelli Marchello, Rita Rouse and Kim Wildman) from 2008 to 2014, Deena Batton becomes the fifth to accept the job and possibly the last for quite some time.

Already an assistant coach under both Rouse and Wildman in the past, Batton is eager to build the program — not add to the disruption.

Batton has coached for nearly 25 years in various positions and sports with stops in Morristown and in Greenfield, where she teaches at the intermediate school.

Story continues below gallery

Familiarity with the volleyball team is a given and will play into her squad’s eventual aspiration of seizing the program’s first sectional title since 1987.

“Strong leadership skills in returning letter winners,” Batton said. “The ladies have set some goals they really want to work toward this year.”

Immediate success will be dictated by her two top players in senior Rachel Irbe and junior setter Courtney Marchello, who were both invited to play in the North vs. South Volleyball Invitational in the offseason.

Irbe, an Eastern Michigan commit and three-year letter winner, led the Cougars with 313 kills and 306 digs last season while adding 43 aces and 56 total blocks. As a junior, she was named All-Hancock County.

Marchello had 757 assists as a sophomore, averaging 8.7 per set. Defensively, she contributed 139 digs.

Junior middle hitter Emily Diehr was a force at the net, logging 122 total blocks along with junior middle hitter Maddie Wise, who finish the 2014 campaign with 188 to earn all-county honorable mention honors.

Wise was the team’s third-best attacker, recording 115 kills.

Irbe’s versatility and the talent of the upperclassmen has Batton considering the implementation of new offensive options, which could increase the team’s 9.9 kills per set average as the season unfolds.

“We still have much to learn about rotations and finding a rotation that will exemplify strength,” Batton said.

Any offensive boost will come in handy with the likes of Mt. Vernon, New Castle, Yorktown and others on their schedule and in their sectional.

Two years ago, the Cougars were Hancock County champions. Last season, they finished 19-12 after going 23-11 in 2013.

First serve: Greenfield-Central lost to Westfield on Wednesday night 3-0.

Author photo
Rich Torres is sports editor at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at rtorres@greenfieldreporter.com or 317-477-3227.