Times Sports Editor
If you look at the 2008 Northview volleyball roster and you don't recognize a lot of the varsity names, no worries, you won't be alone.
The Knights graduated seven seniors from last year's squad, many of whom were starters for much of their four years at Northview. So to say that there will be a few unfamiliar faces to some fans might be a bit of an understatement.
While the experience of last year's group was extremely valuable in some ways, this year's group prides itself in versatility according to coach Scott McDonald.
"The girls have been very receptive to trying different positions," commented McDonald. "This has allowed us to develop depth at every position. The exciting thing for me as a coach, is that they have taken the challenge of replacing a strong group as a personal challenge. They have performed in practice and at camp with a great amount of confidence."
For many of these girls, competing in various camps and travel ball has prepared them to compete at the varsity level for a couple of years now.
"This team is not short on varsity experience," clarified McDonald. "We are returning five varsity letter winners from last year and those five played significant roles at different times last season. The kids that do not have the varsity experience thus far, have performed very well against the varsity competition that we have faced so far."
Though the lineup isn't quite set thus far, McDonald has gotten the roster mostly settled and is using the remaining preseason practice to tinker with rotations.
Outside hitters appear to be senior Hannah Emmert and junior Brittaney Long to anchor the offense. Junior Ali Sharton and sophomores Hannah Hayes and Lizzie Emmert have all gotten playing time as both setters and rightside hitters according to McDonald. Allison Stearley and juniors Alyssa Clarke and Samantha Solomon will hit from the middle for the Knights.
The role of defensive specialist will be led by senior Emily Chiles along with sophomore Kaylee Clark and freshman Ashlen Buck. Senior Lexi Lang and junior Brailyn Whitson should also see time at the position.
Though the team is a bit short on height, McDonald believes the team makes up for that in its togetherness and team unity.
"The biggest thing that has stood out so far is the tremendous chemistry that this team has developed," commented McDonald. "That chemistry has carried over into practice and will carry over into games. We have put them through numerous timed drills with results from not making it. They do not panic which is a true testament to the cohesiveness as a team."
While last year's team overwhelmed some opponents with its power. This year's team should center on sheer will and effort.
"Our strengths will be our ball control in serve receive and on defense, team speed, hustle, and never say die attitude," said McDonald. "These kids are willing to dive for any ball and refuse to let a ball hit the floor without effort."
Northview won 31 games last year during a 31-4 campaign and though that number of wins might be difficult to match, McDonald was quick to point out that this team is going to be enjoyable to watch.
"Fans of volleyball are in for a real treat to watch this team perform," said McDonald. "They are a relentless team for the ball and will be giving 100 percent on every play. These young ladies are tremendous representatives of Northview High School in the classroom as well, and are truly going to be something special to watch. I would love the see the fans come out and support these kids and show their appreciation for the effort."