A year ago the Whiteoak Lady Wildcats looked poised to make some noise in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference (SHAC) volleyball standings. However, the girls from Whiteoak fell short of expectations and finished the season with a 2-10 SHAC record. In 2018 the Lady Wildcats again look poised to take advantage of an experienced and talented group of players.
Whiteoak Head Coach Katie Pollard points to one thing in particular when asked what is different about the 2018 version of the team.
“The biggest difference with this year’s team compared to last year is the team unity. I have my largest group of seniors that I’ve ever had and the juniors that are with them are just as close with them,” said Pollard.
Pollard has observed the girls as practice has begun this fall and sees exceptional improvement from two players in particular.
“Improvements are made yearly with each girl, but two girls that stand out to me are Sydnie Raines and Baylee Carey. Both of these girls are working really hard to perfect their hitting, ball placement, and serving. They were good last year, but I’m really excited for them to just power up this year over the competition,”Pollard said.
According to the Lady Wildcats’ coach there is one girl on the team that is ready to lead the team in 2018, “As far as leadership goes, they all bring something to the floor. Macy Knoblauch was one of our captains last year and I can easily see her returning to that position. She’s an all-around player, ready to go, and steps up in all situations.”
Despite a less than stellar season in 2017 Whiteoak is setting their sights on a winning campaign in 2018.
“A successful season for us this year would be a winning season. These girls have what it takes and if they play hard, play smart, talk on the court, and get pumped they can dominate,” said Pollard.
When asked to point out strengths and weaknesses of the 2018 team Pollard immediately pointed to the unity of the group and said, “Strengths for us are the bond these girls have.”
The Lady Wildcats coach also talked about specific parts of the game her team will do well this season and the amount of work the team has put in to be good this year.
“Our serving has always been some of the best in the league and I don’t look for that to change. I don’t believe we have weaknesses. We have areas that we can improve on, but they are already good.
“Things we’ve worked on this summer are ball placement when putting the ball over the net and coverage. These girls just excel at anything I throw at them. They’ve been putting in the work and I’m excited to see where it takes us,” Pollard said.
When asked to define the goals of the Lady Wildcats this year Pollard said, “Goals this year are to be a presence in the SHAC. Most of these girls haven’t had a winning season and this year’s volleyball team is going to change that. My goals for them are to get loud, confident, and to show everyone what they can do.”
Pollard talked about the support of the community and her hope that she continues to see people come out and support the girls.
“I remember playing in the same gym and having a student section, family, and community members who have just been there forever in the stands. Volleyball is an upbeat and fast tempo game. The more support at games, the more fun it is. These girls deserve the support and we have one of the most supportive communities I’ve ever seen. I hope to see it at the volleyball court this season,” said Pollard.
At the end of the interview Pollard talked about why this season is a special one for her as the head volleyball coach at Whiteoak.
“This year is very special to me. This year’s Seniors I’ve known since they were seven or eight years old when I taught them in second grade. I’ve taught them in fifth grade too and have now coached them in volleyball since they were freshmen. They are a great group of girls and they deserve it all! I’m so blessed to have been a part of their lives this much! I’m looking forward to a great season,” said Pollard.
August 21 – The Lady Wildcats travel to Fayetteville to open their SHAC season against the Lady Rockets.
August 23 – Whiteoak will host the Fairfield Lady Lions in the first of three cross-county rivalry games for the Lady Wildcats.
August 28 – The girls from Whiteoak will travel to Peebles to take on the defending SHAC Division II champions the Lady Indians.
September 18 – The Peebles Lady Indians will travel to Whiteoak High School to take on the Lady Wildcats in a matchup that could have implications on the league title.
October 4 – The Lady Wildcats will head to western Highland County to take on the Lady Mustangs of Lynchburg-Clay in a SHAC and cross-county rivalry match.
October 9 – Whiteoak will close the home part of their schedule when they host the Lady Greyhounds of Manchester in a SHAC matchup.
The Lady Wildcats have the talent and experience to make noise in the SHAC and beyond this season. The development of seniors Ciara Maynard, Gabrielle Tebo, Macy Knoblach, Sydnie Raines and Katie Ames will be a key component for the Whiteoak team in the 2018 season.
Whiteoak will also rely on the contributions of juniors Kiley Hamilton, Destiny Price, Baylee Carey and Cylee Bratton.
There is a high probability that the Lady Wildcats can produce the first winning season anyone currently in the program has ever had.
Look for the Lady Wildcats to make significant improvement in the SHAC and overall this season.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.