BRADENTON -- At the beginning of the summer, Nancy Cothron didn't think she'd be coaching volleyball this season. She left Southeast after last season with the plan to take at least the 2015 campaign off. Katie Martin, the Bruins' junior varsity coach, was in position to take the varsity job when she reached out to Cothron. The former Seminoles coach offered to work as an assistant.
Martin insisted she become Cothron's.
Cothron officially took over as the head coach Aug. 18, replacing the recently retired Ralph McElhiney. A week later, she made her debut on the BHS sideline against Sarasota Military in the Bayshore High School gymnasium and started juggling lineups. Just this Friday, she added a new player to her roster. It was a quick turnaround for Tuesday's season-opener and still the Bruins cruised to a 3-0 (25-18, 25-13, 25-23) victory.
"Today we were figuring it out," said Cothron, who coached the Noles from 2011-2014 and whose husband Tony Cothron led Manatee to a state championship last year. "We had a little bit of uncertainty to who's where and once we got through that--our second match was probably more what I'm looking for. We were more consistent."
The new addition is a setter named Jasmine Youngthunder, a homeschooled student who recently moved to the area from Wisconsin and plays basketball at IMG. Less than a week into her tenure, Cothron had a new strategy to try -- a 6-2 formation to take advantage of Youngthunder and fellow setter Audrey Strong.
The 6-2 formation places six capable hitters around the two setters and libero, and in the second set, the lineup hit a stride. The 12-point victory, BHS's biggest of the day, was partly due to some unforced errors by the Eagles, who were playing the first game in program history, but more because Bayshore's lineup finding cohesiveness.
"We got all the balls up on the over passes," Youngthunder said. "And our hitting was really strong."
The new setter finished with 10 assists in her debut. Strong dished out 13 assists to help the Bruins' two-setter attack. Co-captain Ashlyn Davis led BHS (1-0) with 16 kills and fellow captain JoJo Muldoon stuffed three shots back on her own. Libero Reesie Karkoff led the team with six digs.
The third and final set was the shakiest for Bayshore, even as the Bruins were putting the final touches on their season-opening win. BHS got four of its final five points during the final set off SMA (0-1) errors and nearly blew a 24-20 lead entirely before Sarasota Military launched a serve out of bounds to end the first match of the season.
Following an 8-10 season in 2014, which ended against Cothron and Southeast in the Class 5A-10 championship game, Bayshore is retooling to try to recapture the glory of its 2013 region playoff appearance - the first since one in 27 years. There will be a learning curve, but it wasn't enough to slow the Bruins for one game.
"It's been pretty great," Youngthunder said. "All the girls are really nice and inviting."
GULF COAST HEAT 3 BRADENTON CHRISTIAN 0 --The Panthers fell in their opener to the Heat in three games, 14-25, 8-25, 13-25, despite a strong performance from Olivia McDaniel, who had 15 digs.
The HEAT's Courtney Krause led the team in kills and assists. Junior Isabella LaVassaur followed in kills, senior Bethany Ewing in assists while sophomore Macenzie Krause led in serves and digs.