The Hulbert Lady Riders volleyball team has been busy this summer preparing for the next season.
“We’ve had a lot of camps, volleyball camps this summer,” coach Breanna Hill said. “We just had our fundraising camp here at home for junior high. We had a lot of fun and taught the kids the basics of volleyball.
“We had an ongoing league that we play every Monday, in Okay,” she said. “We’ve been busy.”
While it’s not overwhelming, the team’s 10-15 record last year wasn’t bad, especially considering the previous season was virtually non-existent, due to COVID.
The 2021-22 Lady Riders have graduated four seniors and have four this year. There are also five juniors, seven sophomores, and six freshmen.
Hill said the girls have improved over the summer thanks to several summer camps and a Monday night summer league in Okay, among other things.
She said that despite the improvement shown, a starting lineup is still not established. “Right now, everyone is still competing for time on the floor,” Hill said. “I actually see our younger girls stepping up and trying harder.”
The game of volleyball consists of several factors including serving, serving-receiving, defending, passing, communication, offense, net play and a few other lesser-known things. Hill said the Lady Riders’ strength is in serving.
“I would say that’s our service. Our serves are really strong, when we can be consistent,” she said. “We’re working on how to place the serve, and I’m hoping to capitalize on that.”
She said that if the next serve would make a difference in the outcome of the match, she has two daughters she hopes will be on the service line. “Alyee Hubbard is really going to be a good one,” Hill said. “We just finished a game in our Monday league in Okay, and Alyee had nine straight service points. And I actually have a freshman, Daisy Teague, who has a ball serve.
“It just shows that you don’t need to have a lot of experience, just a willingness to work harder,” she said.
“I think another really strong thing about this team is that these girls really like each other,” Hill said. “It’s hard to find a group of girls where they won’t be too competitive with each other, but competitive for each other.
“These girls really love competition, they really love volleyball, and they really love each other,” she said. “I’m thrilled to see this group of girls grow as a team.
“I’ve been with these girls for three years now,” Hill added, “and we’re finally starting to master our fundamentals.
“We are working on recognition and the fundamentals of the pass. We are really seeing an improvement in our fundamentals,” she said.
Hill said while the Lady Riders don’t have a lot of height, they still have a pretty decent front, including net play from junior Brea Lamb, senior Savannah Daub and second Maddy Potts.
“Savannah is our biggest team member,” she said. “She’s 5’10,” but we have some pretty tall freshmen and some tall junior high players.
“But right now we just don’t have a lot of height,” she added.
The Lady Riders play in the Sooner Five Conference, which includes Chouteau, Westville, Salina, Locust Grove and Hulbert.
Hill and her husband, Jordan, have a son, Marshall, who was born just before the start of the season last year.
“I lost a lot of quality time with Marshall last year,” she said. “I’m not doing that this year.
“I go part-time to class so I can spend more time at home with Marshall,” she said. “He’s almost 11 months old right now.
“I rely a lot on several assistant coaches,” she said.
The Lady Riders volleyball roster includes:
Seniors Alison Cole, Savannah Daub, Ells Beall and Tory Poorman.
Juniors Brea Lamb, Mazie Carey, Gabby Cook, Sophia Monroy and Paige Waters.
Sophomores Maddy Potts, Alyee Hubbard, Autumn Bird, Brylee Birchfield, Emma Taylor, Emma Taylor, Alexis Korte and Kylee Ezell.
Freshmen Karsyn Shankle, Daisy Teague, Tressa Disler, Emily Mullins, Gracie Gordon and Andrea Maes.