WILLIAMS, Ariz. - The Williams High School (WHS) girls varsity volleyball team started the regular season strong by going into Chino Valley and defeating them on their home court in five sets on Aug. 28. The Lady Vikes lost twice to Chino Valley last year, but this is a whole new season and they came out fighting from the very first serve.
Williams won the first set, 25-20. Chino won the second set, 26-24. Williams won set three, 25-20. Chino won set four, 25-20. Williams won the fifth and deciding set, 15-11. This exciting, back and forth match started the Lady Vikes' season with not just a clutch victory, but a much needed confidence boost and gave the players that close game experience.
Head Coach Jennifer Carter said the team stepped up incredibly and proved they are a completely different squad then they were last year. The first three teams WHS plays this season are all from larger schools, and are all teams they lost to last year.
"It could have been easy for us to go into this game and have the mentality that 'we're not going to win,' but they really didn't," said Carter. "They started out the game from point one focused, worked together as a team, and stayed so positive. We played a power game, Chino Valley is a really good team and we won a very close match."
Carter said her players stayed in the game from start to finish, and their confidence never wavered, even when they were up two sets to one and Chino won the fourth set to tie the match and send it to a deciding set five.
"Jesse Durnez and Cheyenne Lienhard were amazing in the back row. Any ball that came to them they put up the pass and they put that pass where it was supposed to go so Devin [McNelly] could set it and we could get that hit," Carter said.
The junior varsity team lost their match against Chino Valley in two sets. Carter said it was a good learning experience for the younger players though because they now know what they need to work on.
"The one thing that we'll be looking at going forward is just stepping up with the power. We got a lot of bumps, sets, and passes, we were working our offense very well, but we didn't have a lot of power once it came to those hits," Carter said. "Whether it was a possible set being off or just a hitter not getting her approach, we didn't hit with a lot of power as much as I would have liked. So our outside hitters and middle blockers need to work on going up, working that form, and powering those hits down. But overall these girls did amazing, I couldn't have been happier."
A big road win is much needed for the Lady Vikes since nine of their 14 regular season matches will be away games. The Williams-Grand Canyon News went to print before Williams' Aug. 30 match at River Valley. WHS volleyball's next match is their first home game of the season, tomorrow night against Greyhills Academy.