“These girls clearly love this sport and are dedicated to making this team and this season the best it possibly can be,” she said.
Carsten takes over a Jackson County program that went 11-19 a year ago. Though she has no previous volleyball head-coaching experience, Carsten grew up around the sport and played four years on the varsity at Forsyth Central in Cumming.
So far, Carsten’s new team has been plenty busy.
The Jackson County athletic department implemented a new offseason summer lifting program and the volleyball team has taken full advantage of that, working out three days a week. On top of that, Jackson County has held voluntary practices two to three times a week since June.
“We focused heavily on conditioning during the month of June and have been slowly transitioning into skills-based drills and exercises as the season draws closer,” Carsten said.
The two players that have impressed Carsten the most so far have been Kelcie Zimmer and Jaycee Caylor. Carsten notes that Zimmer — a club ball player — is an excellent all-around performer “who can be given any instruction and can carry out any request with great skill.”
“She and Jaycee are both fantastic players as far as skills are concerned, but they both stand out to me especially because of the motivation and inspiration they provide for their teammates,” Carsten said. “These girls are always the ones to cheer on their teammates, provide pointers and set an example at all times.”
An emerging player on this team could be Haley Nix. Nix, a junior, has developed and grown greatly over the summer, according to the coach.
“She is a junior who played JV last year and has been working with great dedication this summer to become a player who is going to be a star in every position she plays on the court this season,” Carsten said.
As far as the team goes, Jackson County has devoted a lot of time to serving this summer, so Carsten hopes that’s a weapon this fall.
“I am confident that we have a great set of killer serves up our sleeve for this season,” she said.
The Panthers will, however, have to shore up some offensive problems.
“We have a few very good hitters, but our consistency in delivering point-winning spikes is something we will work to improve during this season,” Carsten said.
Along with having a new coach, Jackson County joins a new area this year — 6-AAA — which will pit it against East Jackson, North Oconee, Oconee County, Morgan County and Hart County.
For this year, Jackson County’s objectives are simple.
“Our goal this year is to be a team who can communicate, move, learn, grow, and support each other together,” Carsten said. “We are in transition right now at this school and there are a lot of new experiences for both the players and coaches at JCCHS, but our goal is to remain focused on being a supportive team first and to always keep our heads up and constantly strive to better ourselves.”