The Huntsville Hoyas Senior Girls Volleyball team has found success on the court this season embodying the qualities of teamwork, cohesiveness, offensive prowess and athleticism.
Playing in a tough Muskoka Parry Sound group featuring Bracebridge, Almaguin, Parry Sound, Gravenhurst and St. Dominic’s, the team is currently in third place in the league as the regular season wraps up with MPS finals on the horizon.
Suiting up for games twice a week in addition to three team practices has given the girls a chance to grow together since tryouts began in early November, with several veteran players taking on leadership roles over the past several months.
“This year’s team is an amazing group of athletes and young ladies that Huntsville High School hasn’t seen in some time,” said Joanne Nichols, who coaches the team alongside Deb Austin. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Leading the charge up front has been senior players Emily Kerr, Phylicia Earle and Andrea Alldred, who each bring a unique skill set to the team. Kerr provides exceptional offense for the Hoyas with nearly untouchable ‘kills’, while Phylicia as a new player has shown a natural affinity for the sport in setting blocks and earning a starting position on the right side. Alldred continues to quarterback the team’s offense and has truly come into her own in recent weeks with a dedicated commitment to improving her skill as a setter.
The talented front-court group is well complemented by the excellent digging and complete backcourt dominance by team ‘Libero’ (back-row specialist) Hailey McConnell. McConnell’s play and leadership qualities have been consistently strong all season, earning her recognition from referees and coaches whenever she plays.
“Hailey is extremely dedicated and works hard to improve her skills,” said Nichols. “She challenges herself to be better at each practice and game and has become a stand-out back row specialist in our league.”
In the middle of the court, Alexis Berry and Taylor Smith have provided a complete defensive package and stabilizing presence to their teammates, as their blocking play has allowed the Hoyas to ‘seal the net’ against opponents. With the return of Amber Maw to the team, Huntsville’s offense will receive yet another shot in the arm ahead of this year’s championship.
Outside of league play, the girls have competed in four tournaments this season in Bracebridge, Parry Sound, Barrie and Midland, where they won the “B” finals.
“The tournament in Midland saw all our players play their best so far,” said Nichols. “It provided some great moments that was a boost to their confidence and level of play, and I am excited heading into the MPS championships. We continue to have dedicated parents that support us in driving us to our tournaments and watching our games.”
The team has one final tournament coming up to hone their skills before finals, this time at home on February 12th in the Huntsville High School gym.
The full team roster is as follows:
Alldred, Andrea (setter)
Berry, Alexis (M/P)
Bjorkquist, Ginny (P)
Brown, Kyhlie (M)
Cartwright, Hannah (P)
Crozier, Olivia (P)
Earl, Phylicia (RS)
Jeffries, Kelsey (M)
Kerr, Emily (P/RS)
Maw, Amber (P)
MacMillan, Mary (S)
McConnell, Hailey (Libero)
Phinney, Emily (P)
Smith, Taylor (M)