Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
PIKETON — Alayna Lytle is still the only athlete to ever win four Defensive Player of the Year awards in the Scioto Valley Conference.
Now, she’s also the league’s youngest head volleyball coach.
Lytle, who logged 2,000-plus career digs while leading Huntington to 61 wins from 2011 to 2014, was approved to take over Piketon’s volleyball program in a board meeting Tuesday evening — following the departure of Allison Robbins, who spent five seasons with the Redstreaks.
“I realized I wanted to coach for a club team and started looking into Spiketown and SOVC because I wanted to be more involved in local athletics,” Lytle said. “I had gotten a Facebook message about the Piketon job and that I should apply for it. I wanted to take the shot because opportunities like that don’t come often.”
Before she received that message, Lytle knew she wanted her coaching career to eventually reach the high school level. After she received it, she started calling other coaches around the conference, inquiring about the vacancy.
“I knew I wanted to coach, I just didn’t know when it would happen,” she said. “I had my ducks in a row. I knew I know how to coach and what needs to be done. So I started making phone calls to coaches in the conference and asked if I’d have support. They said ‘Absolutely.’ It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I wasn’t going to pass it up.”
Lytle, 21, will take over the reigns of a program that finished 7-17 last season with a 2-12 mark inside the SVC. The first order of business will be to steer the ship in right direction.
“We’re going to try and rebuild a program,” Lytle said. “The first thing I’m looking to do is to build confidence within the girls. I want to build off what they’ve done in the past, but look towards the future. They’ve had athleticism, they’ve had talent. But they just couldn’t put it together at times. I want to help them mend everything together and teach them how to win, how to succeed and how to build chemistry.”
While Lytle has defensive expertise and a keen sense of how to play the back row, she’s also got a couple of names in mind to help coach Piketon’s front row players.
“I specialized in the back row when I played,” she said. “I want someone by my side who can demonstrate what we need in the front row as well. I’ve got a couple of people I’ll be calling.”
Lytle is currently a senior at Tiffin University, where she’s played softball for the past several seasons. She’s set to graduate this spring with a major in Criminalistics. But she’s looking towards August … she’s already drawing up workout plans.
That’s a good sign for the Redstreaks and something the team needs considering the conference they play in. More than anybody, Lytle knows how hard it is to win in the SVC.
“A lot of my coaching style is going to be based off what I played against,” she said. “We’re going to play at a high speed with high intensity, while playing a short game and keeping opponents on their feet. I want to get us to the elite caliber to where we can succeed in the SVC. It’s a tough conference. I’ve been there and I want to teach these girls how to win there as well.”