Freshman VB squad grows in successful campaign

Posted 11/19/20

Moving from middle school to high school volleyball is a significant jump, but the Powell High School freshman team made it look easy in 2020.

The Panthers’ first-year squad recently capped …

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Freshman VB squad grows in successful campaign

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Moving from middle school to high school volleyball is a significant jump, but the Powell High School freshman team made it look easy in 2020.

The Panthers’ first-year squad recently capped off the season, finishing 15-3. Throughout the year, head coach Lesli Spencer saw steady improvement from her group.

“We had huge growth,” Spencer said. “Truly, it was a great bunch of kids.”

Something that stood out about the Panthers was their team-first mindset.

“They were very unselfish and super willing to learn and still loving the game and still wanting to do anything that they could to better the team,” Spencer said.

While every player saw their skills improve over the course of the season, Spencer noted a handful of individuals who stood out to her.

Brynn Hillman moved from outside hitter to middle blocker and “grew well and transitioned well” to the new position, the coach said. On the outside, Waycee Harvey “really started coming into her own at the end of the season with her approach and timing,” Spencer said.

The team’s lone setter, Stevee Walsh, was “very consistent” and a “good leader on the court, the coach said. And three girls who had never played “A” team volleyball in middle school — Maci Borders, Cassidy Reimer and Katie O’Brien — “became an integral part of the program,” according to Spencer.

For all of these girls, moving forward after mistakes was a key strength.

“If we were down at the beginning of the game, it doesn’t mean it’s over,” Spencer said. “That understanding that it’s not over ‘til the last point.”

Something that makes Spencer proud is how the team improved against certain opponents as the season went on. Despite losing to Cody and Worland early in the schedule, the Panthers bounced back at the end of the year, beating both.

“I see huge growth in that,” Spencer said.

The freshman squad practiced with the junior varsity and varsity squads more than half of the fall, constantly competing against older players. This — along with the girls’ willingness to learn — gives Spencer confidence that these girls will excel as they rise through the program.

“We also moved girls up and down at practices, depending on the day and who was sick and who was out, who was injured,” Spencer said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any skip of a beat going into the next level, wherever they’re at.”

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