ROGERSVILLE – Cherokee’s 2019 volleyball team is young, but showing promise.
“They’re looking good,” said Lady Chiefs coach Ashley Wilson. “We’re going to be very, very young. We lost seven seniors last year, mainly starters.”
Wilson is counting on her returning 12th-graders to lead the way for her young team.
“We’re returning four seniors for the year,” she said. “Mallie Cole, our setter, has set since freshman year. Then we have Jennah Powell. She missed her sophomore year but didn’t miss a beat last year. She jumped back in and was great.
“Adrianna Harrell has played on varsity since her freshman year, as well. And Raelyn Fletcher has been on varsity since her freshman year, too, not necessarily playing all the time but she’s helped us in some tough situations defensively,” said Wilson.
“With them leading the team, the other girls have followed suit,” said Wilson, who has noticed an improvement in teamwork.
“They’re a lot closer than they were last year,” she said. “We have a smaller group. We only have 15 this year. We’re used to carrying at least 20. But that’s helped with the chemistry because they’re all for each other and they’re talking more on the court. They’re a fun group.”
The coach noticed the cohesiveness during a summer volleyball team camp.
“You can hear them,” Wilson said. “I was going through game film from the camp that we went to, and they were telling each other, like, ‘keep your elbow high,’ ‘don’t drop your shoulder,’ ‘you’re passing without putting your thumbs down’ – just helping each other and they’re really listening.”
While the squad loses experience, Wilson said they still possess physical skills.
“I think as far as athletic-wise, we’re pretty athletic,” she said. “It’s just a matter of putting it all together. We can do drills. When we’re doing drills, I would put us up against anybody. We’re like first place when it comes to drills.”
When the matches start, however, so do the butterflies.
“When we get together and it’s six on six and it’s serve and blowing whistles and refs, we just kind of get starstruck because we’re young,” said Wilson, noting that will change as they gain experience.
“We’ve played well. We’ve mixed up our rotations and stuff and I was impressed with how we’ve played. We’ve been getting balls we didn’t get up last year. I think overall, we’re going to surprise some people. We did lose a lot, so it’s a matter of just getting experience together. We’re working on it right now,” said Wilson, who still maintains lofty goals.
“I’m still holding us to the same standards,” she said. “We’ve had at least 10 wins the past two seasons and that’s what I’m holding them to, and they know that. Because we can do it.
“It’s just doing it, having confidence in it and knowing that we can. Again, that comes with having a young team. That confidence isn’t going to be as high. But that will get better with experience,” Wilson said.