With youth and versatility, the Taft 7-12 volleyball team seemingly has an abundance of potential.
Head coach Kelsey Hart of the Lady Tigers has a full roster of volleyball players once again this year and plenty of younger girls who are eager to learn.
“We have a lot of potential this year, and we're still not clear on exactly who will be playing what positions, but we've got a flexibility with our lineup and possibilities that we haven't had before” Hart said. “It will be fun to see what combinations work best for us.”
The young Tigers were thrown into competitive action right out of the gates, competing in Lincoln County Schools Jamboree at Taft on Aug. 29. Playing three sets against three different teams, Taft opened with a tough loss to 2A Toledo in set one but rebounded with a come from behind win over 1A Waldport in the second set. In the third set the Tigers played 4A Newport who flexed their muscle by beating the younger, inexperienced Taft team.
“We had some hiccups in the beginning, but the girls kept a positive attitude and did a great job rolling with all of the lineup changes we had,” Hart said.
Hart said inexperience will be the biggest hurdle they must overcome this season. However, she does have a few returning players that she expects to step up and lead the team.
“While our talent and position flexibility is higher as a whole than it has been, we don't have as much court experience as other teams, so we'll be leaning heavily on our returning players to step up as leaders,” Hart said.
With volleyball tryouts taking over the majority of the first week of practice, Hart said it’s still too soon to say who she expects to see shine on the court. But as a team, she expects each varsity player to have a role on her squad.
“I expect everyone to be a key contributor in some way or another,” Hart said. “Everyone has a role to play that will be crucial to our team, whether it is on the court full time, subbing into key positions or encouraging the team from the bench.”
With a strong field of teams in the Coastal Range League, the Tigers are expecting the competition to be fierce. And for Hart, she is expecting her girls to compete and thrive in each competitive environment.
“I think competition wise, this is a good league for us,” Hart said. “All of the other teams in our league are going to push us to be better this year, but I think we have a good shot at taking home a few more W's this year if we can rise to our potential.”
The Tigers first official game will be Sept. 4 at home against Amity, starting at 6:30 p.m. Hart and the Lady Tigers are looking forward to competing each night and winning some games, but overall, the goal is to have fun doing it.
“We got our first league win in several years last season, and it's left the girls hungry for more,” Hart said. “Then the goal I have for my teams every year is just to have a great season and enjoy it, no matter how we do.”