Fall prep preview | Oak Harbor volleyball

Who’s the volleyball team to beat in the Wesco 3A North? Oak Harbor coach Kerri Molitor’s response: “All of them.”

The division, which Molitor called “very strong,” is well-balanced and the rush to the title will most likely come down to the wire. Look for the Wildcats to be among the leaders of the pack.

Oak Harbor, which finished second in 2011 (8-2, 11-6), returns six players who saw extensive playing time last fall.

Included among the returnees is most of the firepower, which centers around senior setter Taylor Nienhuis.

Seniors Roshel Muzzall and Hannah Salmons will handle the outside, junior Kayleigh Harper the middle, senior Ally McGuire the right side and senior Kelsey Rankin either the middle or the right.

Nienhuis and Harper were second-team, all-conference players last year; Muzzall received honorable mention.

Molitor said the team’s key newcomers are junior defensive specialist Deanna Ruben and freshman middle Claire Anderson.

Gone are two of the team’s quickest players, Janine DeGuzman and Christina Alexander. Molitor said the team will make up for the loss through experience and confidence.

She said, “The girls are playing well together. They know they cannot rely on one or two individuals to carry the team. Everyone is stepping up to the challenge and holding her own.”

Molitor isn’t making any major changes: “I always set high expectations for the girls and they always come through.  We have a more aggressive offense, so we may be working on mixing some new offensive strategies into our game.”

She sees the team’s cohesion and experience as its strengths: “The team plays together as one. They support each other when things are going well and when things are challenging. We are well-rounded, obviously have some experience on our side and the girls work really hard.”

Molitor expects her team to be “competitive throughout the season, as well as setting high goals for post-season play.”

She added, “I am blessed with a wonderful group of girls to work with. We are all looking forward to this season.”

Oak Harbor hosts a jamboree today at 9 a.m. and then travels to state 2A power Burlington-Edison at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, for a nonleague match.

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