Cats say goodbye to top setter

Senior Valerie Hartman, 5
Senior Valerie Hartman, 5'2, is dwarfed by teammates Heidi McNeill, 6'2, left, and Yolanda Garcia, 5'7 as they celebrate their victory over Mount Vernon last Tuesday night.
— image credit: Ken George

Oak Harbor Wildcats volleyball team was given a big assist by its lone senior this season, and now she leaves as the school’s all-time assists leader.

According to Wildcats’ head coach Kerri Molitor, setter Valerie Hartman had the assists record in her sights when this season began.

“The assists record was her goal going into the season,” said Molitor. “As our only returning varsity player she brought a lot of leadership and experience. She had a lot on her shoulders and she did a great job.”

Behind the play of Hartman and several talented underclassmen, the Wildcats were able to improve three games in the win column this season improving to 4-4 in the WesCo North Conference and 7-7 overall. The squad finished fifth in league, missing out on making the district tournament by just one spot.

“It’s disappointing not to make it to districts, but I am really proud of how we finished this season,” said Molitor. “We played well against the top teams in the league and we continued to improve throughout the year.”

Despite the loss of Hartman, the Wildcats have a lot to look forward to next year. The team will return such standouts as outside hitter Celeste Garey, and middle blockers Alicia Lancaster and Heidi McNeill.

McNeill will return next season as a sophomore; she spent her entire freshman year on the varsity squad. Molitor believes having middle blocker Sarah Bratt for a whole season will help. Bratt missed part of the season with an ankle injury.

“With more experience Heidi will continue to improve her blocking,” said Molitor. “And having Sarah for a full season will give the other teams something they haven’t seen.”

Taking over for Hartman as the team’s setter will be sophomore Lareese Santos. Santos was the starting setter on the junior varsity squad and floated up to the varsity team as Hartman’s backup.

“Lareese is looking to come in and fill Valerie’s shoes,” Molitor said. “She’s a good little setter.

And there is no doubt that she will have some awfully big shoes to fill.

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