New coach, same success for Aiken volleyball
AIKEN, Sc. (WRDW/WAGT) - If there’s one program that’s used to going to the playoffs in South Carolina, it’s Aiken. The Hornets have been in the playoffs each of the last 10 years after winning states in 2010 while under the direction of Malynda Young. Now Jeremy Rinder runs the team and in taking the job, knew what the expectations were going to be.
“We talked about how it was state or bust. And we knew that was the expectation, I knew that was the expectation and that’s something I take on and embrace and look forward to. And I like that challenge and I like pushing them to kind of accept that challenge. One of the things we’ve talked about all season is having a target on our back, being a team that people want to beat. And so embracing that and taking it head on,” said Rinder.
Rinder also mentioned his second son was born the day before interviewing for the head coaching position. Rinder, a professor at USC Aiken, is part of the school of education. It’s also where he met one of his current assistant coaches, former Pacer Kelsey Spurlin.
Spurlin, who graduated from USC Aiken in the class of 2020, is no stranger to adversity. She’s dealt with a blood disorder, heart condition, and loss of vision in one of her eyes, and yet maintained a starting role (when healthy) on the volleyball team and 4.0 GPA in the school of education. Spurlin now teaches English at Aiken High School and married, changing her last name to Yarbrough
“She’s a really good example of perseverance for the girls on our team. It’s awesome having her around.”
The majority of the starting Hornets squad is sophomores and only has one starting senior. One of the sophomores, Natalie Bland, was named region player of the year as a freshman a season ago. For as good as they are right now, there’s still more that the team could accomplish over the next few seasons.
“That really means developing the future and developing the younger players and pushing each other so that we’re the best team that we see so that we know we have longevity down the road.”
While the future may be bright for Aiken’s volleyball program, the current focus is on Thursday’s match up with James Island. It’ll be a 6 o’clock start as the Hornets fight for a spot in the lower state championship. If they win, they’ll face the winner of South Aiken and Hilton Head on Monday.
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