ROSEMOUNT – Coming off of their first volleyball regional title in school history a season ago, Clay fell to North Adams in their season opening volleyball match Monday night in straight sets (23-25, 22-25, 21-25).
Of course, after graduating seven seniors, six of which who were either starters or key rotation players during their regional title run, it was expected that Clay would take a step back.
Clay coach Sarah Hammond liked the heart she saw in her team, most of which who had not had any varsity volleyball experience, even in the season opening loss.
“I thought that we came out fighting,” Hammond said following the game. “We’re a young team. Instead of playing with nerves, I thought they played with a lot of heart. We’re obviously rusty where this is our first game, but overall I was proud in their effort and not giving up.”
Jaelyn Warnock. the only main rotational piece returning from last season’s regional title team, led the Panthers in most statistical categories Monday night. Warnock finished with 12 kills, 5 aces, 3 solo blocks, and 21 digs.
Junior setter Shaley Munion led Clay in assists with 13, sophomore libero Kyleigh Oliver led Clay in service receptions with 22 while also finishing with 15 digs, and Taeghan Redoutey finished with 4 kills.
In self-admission, Hammond says that the coaching game plan and style of play Clay is going to implement this season is vastly different than a year ago. If they’re going to be successful and improved by year’s end, Hammond knows her team will have to buy into that approach.
“We’re kind of learning how to play the game all over again,” Hammond said. “We’re so used to having such a strong offensive team, and while we might have that by year’s end, we don’t have that right now. We’re playing a lot more defense now, and that’s a testament to my girls because they’re fighting and scrapping to keep it alive.”
Clay hosts Green Tuesday in their SOC opener before hosting Notre Dame Thursday in their second SOC game of the season.
With the start of SOC play looming, Hammond is imploring her team to be the best version of themselves and showcase their love for the game every time they step out on the court.
“I think they’re now starting to be able to play together. I would like to see their communication, their excitement, and their love for volleyball brought together as one instead of being shy together. That just comes with having such young players and them not having that experience. When they learn to gel and have the chance to gel, I think overall they’ll be okay.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved