High School Sports

Spring sports previews: State College boys volleyball

Head coach: Kim-Li M. Kimel (14th season)

Last year: 10-7, 5-5 Mid-Penn Conference. District 6 Class AAA champions, lost to Bethel Park in PIAA first round

Assistant coaches: Kirk Hoover, Mike Conkey.

Key losses: Eric DeShong, John Dorsey, Noah Hanahan, Alex Novack, Kevin Paroda, Jonathon Ready, Kyle Shafer, Ibrahim Almoaiqel, John Weakland (injury).

Returning letterwinners: Nick Crawford, Cameron Crow, Deniz Demirci, Andrew Groves, Clark Handel, Parker Thompson.

Key newcomers: Aaron Cymbor, Tyler Snyder, Peyton Stark, Peter Atwill, Jeffery Podolski.

The skinny: After running off five straight district titles, the road looks a little steeper this season. Most of the starting lineup from last season has been lost, the team has a new setter and injuries have hurt as well. ... The Little Lions lost two more players to injuries Saturday in their tournament at Northeastern. ... The Little Lions have size, with five on the roster standing 6-foot-4 or taller, but inexperience will mean growing pains most of the season. One of taller players with experience, John Weakland, a starter as a freshman, is one of those out with an injury. ... Among those expected to have an impact at outside hitter are Deniz Demirci, Aaron Cymbor and Tyler Snyder. Leading at middle blocker are Clark Handel and Peyton Stark. Parker Thompson and Andrew Groves are in the hunt to be the setter. Cameron Crow and Nick Crawford lead the list for libero and defensive specialists. ... With one Mid-Penn match and two tournaments under their belts to open this season, the Little Lions face one of the state’s top eams, Cumberland Valley, in another league match on Tuesday.

Coach Kimel says: “We have a lot of work to do to get to where we need to be in May. Our attitude for the season is we’re happy if we’re moving forward. We want them getting better with every touch. But there will be a point where moving forward won’t be enough, and they know that. But right now it’s early in the season and we’re learning.”