Potter excited for season

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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After a busy offseason, the Oak Ridge High volleyball team is ready to step back into the spotlight and gain elite status in the Delta River League. Last season, Oak Ridge defected from the Sierra Valley Conference and finished with a respectable 20-17 overall record (before being eliminated by fellow DRL powerhouse St. Francis in the Sac-Joaquin Section semis. This season, the Lady Trojans return nine players from a year ago, including three all-league performers in middle blocker Haley Simmons, libero Maddie Chambliss (both first team All-DRL) and outside hitter Alexa Becker (DRL honorable mention). After just two weeks of practice, the intensity inside the Trojan gym has fourth year head coach Becky Potter pleasantly surprised. “I have to admit I was a little nervous for this season,” she explained. “Little did I know that every returning kid would get ridiculously good in the offseason. So far every practice has been loud, competitive, scrappy and better than any practice we have had in the past couple of years.” Despite the absence of a true go-to standout in Katie Vaughn, who graduated last spring and is now playing for BYU, Potter is not worried about a lack of leadership or ability from her current roster. “These girls have incredible maturity and fight that is impossible to coach. It’s innate,” said Potter. “Everyone knows they can fight for a starting spot at any given moment and there are leaders starting to emerge in all of our girls.” Among the returning varsity players from a year ago are senior Arden Zuber, juniors Amelia Crye, Tara McDermott, Rachael McVicar and Mysha Davies and sophomore Hayley Corell. Rounding out the varsity roster are newcomers Nicolette Tsivikas, the lone junior from last year’s JV squad, Maddie DeGeorge, a sophomore transfer setter from St. Francis, Maddie Maxwell, a junior transfer from Missouri, German foreign exchange student/middle blocker Helena Strube and first-time senior Stephanie Guest. Most of the varsity roster spent their summer developing their skills on club teams. Potter kept herself busy over the summer as well, coaching her Northern California Volleyball Club 16-1’s team to a silver medal at the Junior Nationals in Atlanta in July. Although Potter did not see the offseason training or play of her varsity players first hand, she recognizes the potential of what this year’s Lady Trojans can accomplish. “I know we can win league and sections, but I really think we have a shot at state. We are scrappier and have more desire to be the best than I have seen in my four years as the head varsity coach here. Nothing can beat pure, unadulterated team chemistry.” The Lady Trojans begins play this week with its foundation game at Vista del Lago on Monday, followed by the Oak Ridge home opener against Del Oro on Tuesday.