Baylee Howell (copy)

Oak Hill’s Baylee Howell is back for her senior season as the Oaks prepare to give every team their best shot despite lower numbers than usual.

OAK HILL — It’s possible that no team during fall sports suffered more from COVID-19 than Oak Hill volleyball did last season.

It was shut down twice. First in the very middle of the season for two weeks, and then at the very end of the season, causing them to forfeit their tournament game.

However, the Oaks are leaving 2020 in the rear view mirror and are ready to get back on the court in 2021.

“Last year we had a lot of trials, and when we finally did return, we were without our setter and middle hitter,” Oak Hill coach Tori Duncan said. “It made other players play out of their comfort zone and learn a different position. But, I think that little bit of experience can be beneficial for us.”

It all starts with their three returning seniors in setter Baylee Howell, middle hitter Chloe Chambers and defensive specialist Macie Blackburn.

“Those three have the experience, and we need them to be leaders for the young team that we have,” Duncan said. “Confidence is the one thing they can breathe into the younger girls. I’ve seen a difference in them, and the fact that they have that desire and hunger to win is trickling down.”

Jordan Howard returns to her libero position, Chloe Potter steps in as an outside hitter as does Alyssa Zornes.

Also contributing to the attack for the Oaks are freshmen Reagan Adkins and Brinlee Harden.

“We don’t have as many hitters as we have in the past, so that part hurts a little,” Duncan said. “But they are all very athletic, understand the game and want to improve. There are going to be some growing pains along the way, but the progress will come and learn from our mistakes.”

With only 15 girls total in the volleyball program this year, this is the smallest complete group that Duncan has had in her four years at head coach.

Although Oak Hill doesn’t have the level of experience like most of its opponents do, the element of surprise can still work in its favor.

“Every girl has to learn every position in some aspect, so that part is a little challenging, but it’s a responsibility they’ve taken head on,” Duncan said. “One of the big things we’ve been working on is our serve receive and making sure that is as sharp as possible to set up our offense. We’ve put in a lot of work over the summer, and we’re ready to give this season everything we’ve got.”

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