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Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:18 PM

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Coming off the most accomplished season by any measure in program history, Springstead nonetheless faces a fresh start in 2012.

The Lady Eagles, after producing a school-record mark of 22-6 while claiming their first district championship and regional victory, graduated nearly their entire starting lineup.

Adding to the changes in personnel on the court, they'll also have a new mentor on the bench. Last week, the school officially named Noemi Rivera as its head coach.

"It's going to be tough," Rivera said. "But I'm so excited and looking forward to the things to come and the challenges and getting out there. I'm looking forward to a great season. I've got an amazing group of girls. They're hard-working, willing to do whatever it takes."

Rivera's name should ring a bell to anyone who followed local volleyball within the past decade.

From 2003-05, she was the starting setter for Central High, helping the Lady Bears twice advance to regionals, including the team's lone regional final appearance in 2004.

She was named the county's Player of the Year by Hernando Today as a senior, and went on to play two years of junior college ball, first at Pensacola State College, then Polk State College.

Now 25, living in Spring Hill and working for the U.S. Postal Service, she'll embark on her first prep coaching gig.

Previously she coached a 16-year-old club team during her time at Polk, followed by a brief stint coaching at an elementary school in Miami.

"I always wanted to be involved in coaching one way or another, and I love volleyball," Rivera said. "And I want to give back. I want to teach girls and help them.

"I did fairly recently come out of playing and I know what I'm talking about. It's not just 'do this' and not be able to show them. I'm able to show them and get them to understand."

The Lady Eagles are in a far different position than when Rivera played. During her high school career, Springstead won a total of eight matches.

Fortunes changed when Darcy Hinton grabbed the reigns in 2008. Over the next three years, a team that hadn't had a winning record since 1993 went 13-13, 13-10 and 17-8.

That last campaign resulted in the Lady Eagles' first-ever regional appearance, a startling fact for a program that started up in 1977.

Yet for Hinton, who is not a teacher, the grind of coaching took its toll and she decided to step down in 2011.

Springstead brought in Tim Harris, a Tampa-based coach with an extensive background in both club and prep volleyball, to replace Hinton.

Though Harris certainly had a successful year at the helm, taking the Lady Eagles to the Sweet 16, the school decided to go in another direction.

Athletic director Bob Levija stressed that Harris did nothing wrong.

"He did a great job, but we feel better with a woman," Levija said. "She's from the area, she's available, she played college and she's female.

"She got a great recommendation from (former Central head coach) Vicki Weaver, so she was coached by the best. We're excited about having her."

Levija indicated that location also played a role, and when reached for comment, Harris said he had no problem with that reasoning.

"It was a difficult situation for me being an hour away from the school. It was a difficult situation for me driving two hours roundtrip," Harris said. "It's a better situation if they found someone a little more local.

"I have no bad thoughts, no regrets over taking the job or the job I did there."

It'll be up to Rivera now to build on the work done by Hinton and Harris. However, just one starter returns – outside hitter Marisa Welch.

Welch, who posted 155 kills and 120 digs as a junior in 2011, will also be the county's only returning All-County selection.

Gone are her All-County teammates Zoe Mannino, Megan Morrison and Allyson Schillinger, plus 2010 All-County pick Carly Wiggins.

"I think Marisa is a super girl and a lot of the girls on the team last year and the girls coming in are really good, too," Rivera said. "I'm looking forward to it. Things should go well.

"I would like a winning season. And for all the girls, I want them do well as a whole, as part of a team."




Year        Record   Head Coach

1977        0-8           Cheryl Rennecker

1978        0-10         David Gibson

1979        1-9           Joan Bedore

1980        3-13         Joan Moehle (Bedore)

1981        14-5         Joan Moehle

1982        13-7         Chuck Moehle

1983        10-9         Lionel Thornton

1984        2-14         Lionel Thornton

1985        4-14         Lionel Thornton

1986        1-17         Gail Coleman

1987        5-13         Ed Chester

1988        10-7         Ed Chester

1989        3-11         Ed Chester

1990        7-13         Lionel Thornton

1991        6-12         Lionel Thornton

1992        10-4         Lionel Thornton

1993        15-5         Lionel Thornton

1994        8-13         Lionel Thornton

1995        8-10         Lionel Thornton

1996        4-18         Lionel Thornton

1997        1-16         Lionel Thornton

1998        7-14         Lionel Thornton

1999        9-19         Lionel Thornton

2000        10-12       Steve Davey

2001        1-26         Steve Davey

2002        0-24         Steve Davey

2003        2-19         Steve Davey

2004        1-20         Jessica Allnutt

2005        5-13         Jessica Allnutt

2006        3-14         Jessica Allnutt

2007        2-17         Jessica Allnutt

2008        13-13       Darcy Hinton

2009        13-10       Darcy Hinton

2010        17-8*      Darcy Hinton

2011        22-6*^      Tim Harris

* Denotes regional playoff appearance

^ Denotes district championship (352) 544-5288

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