Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Aug. 14 newspaper on Page B1.
OAK HILL — Volleyball at Oak Hill has gone through a bit of a rough patch over the past decade.
It hasn’t won 10 games in a season in quite a while, and last season’s 2-19 final seems to be somewhat normal for the Oaks.
“Volleyball has sort of been on the backburner, but the girls see this year that they can win,” Oak Hill coach Tori Duncan said. “We can be competitive.”
But with only one senior graduating and a number of returning players back, the Oaks are hopeful this could be a turning point in the program.
“Having a lot of the same girls coming back to the team is a huge plus for us,” Duncan said. “Last year was a learning year us in the first year of a new system. We went back to just working on the basic fundamentals of the game. Now I want to see those fundamentals executed on the floor and hopefully it can lead to some wins.”
There’s a lot of work to be done for a turnaround season to happen, but luckily for Oak Hill, Caitlyn Brisker is back at her middle hitter position.
“She’s such a versatile player who can do a lot of things on the court,” Duncan said. “She has leadership skills, athleticism like no other player and she’s always working to improve her game.”
Brisker won’t be alone up front as she’s joined by fellow senior Abby Meldick, who is showing her versatility by playing at the net.
“We’ve had to make a couple switches due to some injuries and Abby will also be a middle hitter until we’re fully healthy,” Duncan said. “Once we get to full strength, she’ll move back as our libero. She’s put in a ton of work to do what’s best for the team. Caitlyn and Abby are our leaders.”
A hitter is only as good as the setter, and for Oak Hill, its turning to sophomore Baylee Howell to take over as the general of the Oaks’ offensive attack.
“She was the JV setter last season, but stepped in towards the end of the season, played in the back row to gain some varsity experience,” Duncan said. “She’s a very smart player and I look for her to go some big things for us.”
Oak Hill has two things going for them before the season kicks off, which is team chemistry and experience.
But for it to get to that next level, there’s other parts of the game it needs to work on and emphasize.
“Our communication and serving needs to be on point,” Duncan said. “Long serves or hitting into the net only gives away points. We have to give ourselves a chance and communicate on the floor if we want to win.”