Tournament toughens volleyball team

Aalekhya Tenali, Opinions Editor

The Lady Wildcats combined for a total of 28 kills, 11 aces and 42 digs, putting forth a strong defensive effort, to defeat the Sebring Blue Streaks 24-26, 25-22, 15-12 at the Bulldog bash tournament, held in Stuart on Saturday. But despite the promising start, the team fell to its next three opponents: Miami Christian (26-28), South Fork (21-25, 21-25) and Sebastian River (26-24, 19-25, 13-15).

“We started really strong at the beginning of the day,” senior Tess Sheets said. “But, we didn’t prepare properly for the amount of energy the other three matches would take, so our tiredness affected the way we played as the day went on.”

The Lady Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the offensive opportunities generated by the defense as  the matches progressed. This was mainly due to unforced errors, resulting in the team beating itself rather than the opponents earning victory.

“Coach [Bonnie] Priester has brought another first to our program,” Coach Nikki Anagnostis said. “The purpose is to get our team into the habit of facing competitive teams and growing our level of play. All teams we played at this tournament were highly competitive.”

The team may have put two district games under its belt in the past week, but this tournament has put things into perspective for the team, allowing its strengths to shine through, while sharply pointing out areas for improvement.

“The fact that the teams were so evenly matched made this a great learning experience as we continue our quest for the district championship,” Priester said.

Priester has set the bar high and it remains to be seen how the Lady Wildcats will grow from this experience.

“One thing that stood out to me at this tournament is a new level of confidence the girls show both before and after their matches, win or lose,” parent Cheri Wenger said. “They no longer fear hard hitters and teams who tower over them. They approach each game with a belief that they are in control of the outcome, which is a refreshing change for West Shore volleyball.”

The team will resume its regular-season district play by travelling to Osceola on Wednesday, and will be face off against Space Coast High School in the home gym on Thursday.