POWHATAN – Following a tough loss in preseason play to Grafton last week, the Powhatan Indians gained confidence from their 3-1 scrimmage victory over Trinity Episcopal on Wednesday evening.
“We are young and we need that time on the court together to just gel and work out all the kinks,” head coach Cindy Bryant said after Wednesday’s scrimmage. “I think we’re off to a great start and I appreciate the positive team energy…how much we’re seeing everyone stay positive…”
Six-foot senior Sierra Ellison was a force at outside hitter, delivering 22 kills and 4 service aces. Coach Bryant praised how Ellison is “consistent in what she does and how she approaches the ball;” her speedy reaction was on point as, late in the opening set, she was able to race to an airball that wasn’t hit to her and spike it into open space for the kill.
Senior Star Bryant followed Ellison in kills with 11 and service aces with 3, and late in the match was able to mix in some lighter “dink” kills up the middle.
“We just feel like she belongs in that middle,” Coach Bryant said of Star. “When outsides maybe get shut down…we have that power middle there that can put the ball down for us at a different location on the court.”
McKenzie Goacher led the team in assists with 18.
Going into the regular season, the Indians have at least three strong arms in different positions to call upon in Ellison, Star and junior Natalie Mueller, and then the Indians also have some 10th graders whom they expect to jump right in within a couple weeks.
Additionally, senior Zoe Higley made a big play late in the fourth set when she turned a rally that was kept alive by diving digs from McKenzie Goacher and Kara Huber into a well-placed point in the middle of the floor.
“We are seeing Zoe bring incredible positive energy to our court,” Coach Bryant said, adding that while she doesn’t hard-kill the ball, “she puts the ball strategically to open court, and the kill is recorded the same.”
Coach Bryant was impressed by the team’s blocking performance; 5-8 sophomore Emilie McDaniels found her rhythm as the match progressed and, in a couple of plays, was able to string together consecutive blocks within the same play.
“She has uncanny blocking timing in a positive way,” Coach Bryant said of McDaniels.
While Coach Bryant noted that the team’s defending and ability to intercept the ball was better than last week, she observed that they still have some positioning to correct – the players are still in the get-to-know-you phase as far as trusting the players who are supposed to intercept the short ball so that the deep players stay deep, and vice versa – “but that’s going to come with reps,” Coach Bryant said.
Powhatan Volleyball will follow-up its scrimmage victory over Trinity with its official 2019 season opener on Monday, Aug. 26 at home versus L.C. Bird at 7 p.m.