When you have only one returning full-time starter, it’s good to have a talented one.
Oak Harbor High School volleyball coach Kerri Molitor lost seven strong players to graduation, but not Kayleigh Harper.
The 6-2 senior, an all-league, first-team selection in 2012, is back and will be one of the Western Conference’s top weapons.
Junior Amelia Berner and sophomore Claire Anderson were often in the starting lineup for the Wildcats last fall and will add experience to an overall young club. Also returning is senior letter winner Deanna Ruben.
New players who should fill in for the graduates, according to Molitor, are senior right side hitter MaKenna Martyn, junior setters Natalie McVey and Hailey Beecher, junior defensive specialist Aubrey Lock and sophomore AnnaBell Whitefoot.
Molitor said, “I don’t think we have slack to make up (for the graduates), but rather a nicely balanced team.
She added, “I have strong returning players in key positions, and our newcomers are a talented group. They fill a variety of positions and they challenge each other in competitive situations every day.”
As for her expectations for the season, Molitor said, “Our defense will frustrate our opponents. I also expect that the girls will accept their roles on the team and support each other by putting the team’s needs ahead of their own. We have a caring group of girls that love the game and want to win.”
Defense will be a team strength, Molitor said. “Our defense will match our offense. We have strong ball handling skills.”
Last year the Wildcats finished third in the Wesco 3A North (5-3, 9-10) and qualified for the playoffs.
“I am excited for the season,” Molitor said. “I hope we can stay positive and overcome any challenges that may arise.”
Who are the teams to beat in Wesco? “All of them, of course,” Molitor said. “It doesn’t matter who our opponent is, it will be a fight every night.”
Oak Harbor hosts six other schools in a jamboree starting a 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. The regular season begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, when state power Burlington-Edison, coached by Oak Harbor graduate Tawnya (Richards) Brewer, comes to town for a nonleague match