Returning a trio of 6-feet-plus Division I players can help the pain of a state championship defeat subside rather quickly.
A pleasant offseason, following a 4A final loss to power Loudoun County, continued last week for Jamestown volleyball with Emma Schriner being named one of the country's top 79 high school sophomores by Prepvolleyball.com.
Schriner was one of three Eagles to recently announce their college intentions in addition to being named to the Prepvolleyball.com 10-foot club, recognizing volleyball players that can touch 10 feet on vertical jumps. She can reach 10 feet, 3 inches.
Schriner committed to the University of Tennessee, accepting a full scholarship offer, while junior teammates Ellie Popelka and Maria Esch committed to the University of South Carolina and UNC Greensboro, respectively.
"I am not unaware or unappreciative of how fortunate I am as coach to have that," Jamestown coach Tom Stephenson said.
Each of the three standouts earned first-team all-state recognition following the Eagles' 3-1 defeat to four-time reigning champion Loudoun County in November.
Popelka (6-2) led the team in the fall with 335 kills (3.8 per) and Esch (6-1), who took top conference and region honors, had 328 (3.6). Popelka finished with 69 blocks and Schriner (6-3) led the team with 92 blocks.
Stephenson said junior setter Maggie Viniard is also receiving Division I interest.
Student-athletes often announce their college choices as juniors, but Stephenson said it is rare for a volleyball player to have committed with a full scholarship in toe as a sophomore.
"Emma is going to be a special player," Stephenson said. "She has a high ceiling, just being a sophomore and as tall as she is and still growing. She'll get stronger. All three of those kids are great volleyball players."
Schriner was only 5-11 when Stephenson met her as a freshman.
The daughter of an Army colonel, Virginia is the third state she has called home, following Colorado and Texas.
Schriner's parents each were on the University of Nebraska at Kearney track and field teams and her mom also played volleyball there.
Schriner's size and athleticism make her instantly pop out to college coaches and she was heavily-sought by the likes of West Virginia, Pitt, Clemson and North Carolina.
Recently she has been working in the weight room with her dad with an eye on improving that vertical.
"I think it's a big part of volleyball," Schriner said. "It definitely helps a lot, obviously, to try and play around the block because there are some girls out there that can put up a pretty big block. It's definitely helpful to be able to jump a lot.
"I'm really excited for this coming school season. I think this will finally be our year to get that state championship. We've been working really hard."
Though the expectations will be clear, Stephenson will do his best not to put extra pressure on the team. And as he mentioned, Loudoun County isn't going anywhere even though it will be losing its top player to graduation, North Carolina-bound Taylor Borup.
"A lot of people are expecting us to win a state championship next year," he said. "A lot of things go into that. We need to stay healthy. But if we do stay healthy, we'll certainly be a tough out for anybody."
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.