ALAH volleyball senior Hannah Carter waits for the ball that she would hit over the Tuscola defense for the winning point in the first game of the opening season match with the Warriors on August 24. #28 Alayna Plank watches Hannah’s hit. The Knights were to play at Mt. Zion on August 26 and at Chrisman on the 29th. They will return home on August 31 to take on the Bulldogs of St. Teresa.
By BLAKE FAITH
The Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond Volleyball team lost five starting seniors, but are easy to come back and compete and are focused on growth and development this year.
“We are feeling prepared and ready to compete,” Head coach Emily Crossman said. We are ready to showcase what we’ve been working so hard on the past couple of weeks. Our pre-season has looked a little different than past years. We are basically re-building the whole varsity team. We’ve got some dynamic, athletic players that I can plug in in a couple of different positions, so we’ve been trying out several different line ups. We are still learning who is filling what role this year. It’s exciting as a coach to see players step up and fill voids and become leaders.”
Coach Crossman said that this team will almost be a brand new varsity team, but expects contributions from Alayna Plank, Summer Melton and Karaline Vanausdoll.
“Alayna Plank was a right side for us last year, but is stepping into the setting role this year, and also a team captain,” Coach Crossman said. “I expect her to take charge and lead the court. I know that physically she will always put it all out there and give 100%. I’m looking forward to her being a vocal leader this year, also. Summer Melton is a sophomore outside hitter who is going to play all 6 rotations. She was a sub for the varsity team last year but I expect her to become a consistent, go-to hitter this season. Karaline Vanausdoll is our returning libero. She is coming in with much more confidence and has started to become more and more vocal this pre-season. I expect her to be a consistent leader this season, and also set the bar for how to be a teammate.”
Hannah Carter is the lone senior on this team and being a leader means “to step up in a way others don’t and to know when to say something.”
“This season has just started but I have used this to make new high school volleyball players feel more comfortable and less confused,” Carter said.
For her individual play, Carter wants to be a better middle each and everyday whether that’s at practice or at a game. For her team goal, she wants them to grow incredibly close with each other and to be able to play well together. Carters wants her last mark to be, to give it her all day in and day out, and that she will have hard days but the game of volleyball is well worth it.
Coach Crossman’s leadership expectations are the same as always and her season expectations are to continue to focus on growth.
“My expectations are the same year after year,” Coach Crossman said. While I would love to win 30 games every season, I want these girls to be good people, good students, good leaders, good teammates, good community members. I expect them to physically work hard, to mentally be strong, and to emotionally be invested in the team and one another. I want my captains to lead by example, but also hold her teammates to a high level. My captain’s expectations should mirror those of the coaching staff.”
Coach Crossman continued, “I don’t have a set number of games I want to win or a tournament to take or a postseason run goal. With a brand new team this year I’m focusing on growth and improvement throughout the duration of the season. I’m looking for leaders to emerge.”
Coach Crossman’s overall message to readers and the community is that this is a great group of hard-working girls who have the desire to prove themselves and grow.
“We’ve got a great group of hard-working girls this season,” Coach Crossman said. “They’ve put in a ton of extra time over the summer and this pre-season. They have the desire to prove themselves, to grow, and to enjoy the process. I encourage community members to come to the game and feel the energy around it. We genuinely have a good time together and I think it shows in the gym. I’m excited for our fans to see how far we come this season and how we evolve into a dynamic and athletic team this year.”