MILTON — Jan Cupp has a passion for volleyball that dates back to her 34 years coaching in Illinois. As she enters her second year as the coach for the Milton High volleyball team she said she is looking forward to a great season with a team who truly loves the sport and is dedicated to it.

Cupp said she started with MHS volleyball after she moved to Milton because she still wanted to coach the sport she loved. She said she started in the middle of the summer last year and didn't have time to do all the summer camps to prepare her team for the season like she did this year, including the recent speed and agility camps.

"Those were incorporated this year and they have really made a huge impact in the program," Cupp said. "The kids love the game, I love the game."

Cupp's assistant coach, Gene Petrie, has been coaching as a volunteer for five years. He played volleyball in the Air force and semi-professionally. He said he has enjoyed coaching the team, which is a hard working group.

"This is what it's all about," Petrie said. "To make these girls better."

While Cupp said while her main goal for the team is not to focus on winning, it is something she wants to keep in mind and said she has the team that can do it. She said the best way to sum up her team is "hardworking, respectful, and skilled to play at a high level."

For the students, they are excited to see what the season holds and hope to make it to district and state championships, according to Marilyn Whitworth, who plays as the opposite hitter for the team and is a senior at MHS this year. 

"The team has a great energy this year," Whitowrth said.

Besides their combined desire to play their best, the team has also formed a sisterhood, according to teammate Hailey Catherine Brown.

"We are a family," Brown said. "If there is anything that goes on we work it out together."

Lilly Arnold, one of the newest members of the team, has played beach volleyball for three years and said she is excited to play with this team and learn from her fellow teammates.

"Its going to be great," Arnold said. "Learning to play with different people and feeding off them is what I love."

Cupp said the most important thing for her is that when it all is said and done, her players know that they came first.

"It's all about the girls," she said.