New beginning for girls volleyball brings high hopes

The crowd, in a swarm of all black, shook the bleachers and threw their hands in the air going nuts, but it was not for the home team. The varsity volleyball team had just beaten rival Oviedo 3-1, and the majority of the Oviedo gym crowd was Hagerty fans.

“We didn’t just win as a team; We won as a school, as a family. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of a team that has so much support from its students and community,” senior Kylie Houston said.

Oviedo did not lose without a fight, pushing the team to 4 games: 25-21, 18-25, 25-23, 25-23. The win against Oviedo contributes to the teams current 12-6 record.

Although the winning tradition has continued, many behind the scenes changes have taken place throughout the season, including new head coach Adam Levi, as well as new underclassmen replacing key graduates from the team.

Levi has little high school coaching experience, only coaching Olympia’s boys team last season and spending two seasons as an assistant for Edgewater’s girls team. However, he also has experience coaching at Top Select Volleyball Academy, and grew up around sports. His parents, who were also sports coaches, gave him his passion and intensity for volleyball. “The girls have been really welcoming and have changed their mindsets throughout the season to get better,” Levi said.

Levi has brought new techniques to the program such as basing players’ game time off of how they perform during games, not based on practice skills as with previous coach Corey Radford. Levi has also encouraged that issues be dealt with immediately and effectively so that players can make the most out of their volleyball experience.

“This kind of trust isn’t just given, it’s earned. The girls know we’re here to work towards a common goal and that’s to do well whether its volleyball, life or school,” Levi said. “I’m pretty tough, I’m pretty intense; It just comes from passion for the game.”

The volleyball team replaced key graduates such as Katie and Emma Ballantyne with underclassmen. Freshmen Ashley Howard and Anne-Marie Watson along with sophomore Kassandra Mentlick serve as new additions to the team.

“The girls that are returning varsity players were already like a family, so we welcomed all the new underclassmen who joined,” junior Katie Krawczyk said. “We’re one big family still, just with new little sisters.”

Team leaders include leading killers junior Nicole Mattson with 157 kills, and junior Katie Krawczyk with 115 kills. Freshman Ashley Howard leads the team with 143 assists, followed by junior Taylor Ferraro contributing 139 assists, while senior Lexi Rossow successfully received 214 serves, and senior Jordann Marinelli leads with 33 total blocks.