Barbers Hill volleyball has enjoyed a strong run of success over the years having made the Class 5A Region 3 rounds in postseason play multiple times.
Second-year head coach Kristin Goodman is hoping to keep momentum going this fall when she and the Lady Eagles return with a new look lineup as replacing a handful of key contributors is tantamount.
However, with a number of Goodman’s girls traveling to national tournaments with their respective club teams, the future looks bright and those holes in the lineup may be filled with room to spare.
“Anyone that is still playing volleyball in June and July shows their true dedication to the game, and to improving their craft by busting their tails all year to stay healthy and overcome their grueling schedules of normal high school studies, off-season, and extended club season,” Goodman said. “These kids are the ones who can make it in the fifth set against a district rival or in the third round of playoffs without skipping a beat. I am very proud that we had so many kids playing summer league, sand volleyball, and/or making the trek to nationals, so that they can be better prepared for Aug. 1.”
That day will see the new season’s practices commence and it will be interesting to see how the busy summer has impacted senior Emily Yates and sophomores Kelsi Wingo, Nadia Karabanoff and Autumn Walker.
The elder of the group, Yates battled it out in a national tournament in Orlando and while visiting sites like Universal Studios, she managed to get plenty of volleyball under her belt while competing with Houston Stellar 17 Premier which finished third out of 138 teams in the Gold Bracket.
She played right side for the team but is also used as a utility athlete that can do a little bit of everything.
“It was a battle,” Yates, who also had Barbers Hill teammate Trinity Hennigan on her team, said. “We did really good. Our team really clicked and were working together. You really need to put your team ahead of yourself and nothing else matters in the moment.”
Karabanoff, an outside hitter, was a Barbers Hill JV player a year ago, but her play with Absolute Volleyball Academy (AVA) 15 Rocks has certainly pushed her to new heights during the AAU Junior National qualifying tournament in Indianapolis last week.
“We went 3-6 going into the bronze bracket and finished 19th,” Karabanoff said. “It’s been tremendously helpful being able to prepare to play against teams that have qualified multiple times for this tournament. It prepared me to fight for the varsity level because of the rigor and the challenge of the game.
“It helped me to learn how to pay more attention to the girls on the other side of the court and learning their tendencies.”
Karabanoff will keep working out to get ready for the season and also is expecting to travel to California for a national beach volleyball tournament.
Wingo was also a JV player for the Lady Eagles last night as a setter and outside hitter. She traveled with Houston Stellar 15 Elite also to Indianapolis, they finished 33rd in their bracket and ended up 6-4 overall.
She was the team’s setter for the tournament.
“Volleyball is the only main reason for our family to travel,” Wingo said. “It’s helped me a ton. You get to play against such a variety of people. The players we went up against at nationals all have a different style of play, so you never know what you are going to run into. It really helps open up your skill set since you are trying different ways to beat these teams since they aren’t the same.
“I have learned to play every point to your advantage and to play hard on every single ball that you touch. Don’t take anything for granted because you never know what will happen in a game. I believe 100 percent that it is worth it because my play has excelled playing on a bigger team.”
Walker is a libero and a defensive specialist and was able to do plenty of playing with her AVA 15 Power team which recently finished third out of 103 teams at the AAU girls junior national championships going 9-3 in Orlando a few weeks ago.
“Nationals really improved my level of play,” Walker said. “AVA 15 Power played against some really great teams and it forced me to step up and play to my highest potential. This experience was one I will never forget, and I am so grateful to have played with my team.”