By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Oklahoma Bible Academy volleyball coach James Ward wasn’t discouraged by his team’s 0-5 record at last weekend’s Union Tournament.
The Lady Trojans lost to some of the Class 6A elite — defending state runner-up Edmond Memorial (25-15, 25-14, 25-16), semifinalist Edmond Santa Fe (25-14, 25-18, 25-19) and quarterfinalists Owasso (25-12, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19) and Stillwater (25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 25-11), as well as Bixby (25-23, 20-25, 27-25, 25-22).
The lessons learned in late August could pay off at playoff time in October for the Lady Trojans, who reached the state tournament for the fifth-straight year in 2012.
“I think we saw some marked improvement in every girl from the beginning until the end,’’ Ward said. “We can’t wait to get back to practice. Playing against the big girls exposed some of our weaknesses. We’ve got to cover those up.’’
Ward had wanted his Lady Trojans — who will be moved up to Class 5A for the second-straight year — to face quality competition.
“Playing the best in Oklahoma was a great experience for us to get used to the speed of the ball,’’ Ward said.
OBA had beaten Stillwater in five sets — 17-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-27, 15-12 — on Tuesday.
“I feel like we have a good chance to do some things this year,’’ Ward said. “We’re ahead of where I thought we would be.’’
OBA is having to replace two All-Staters in Brooke Wayman and Abby Nickel, both four-year starters, and another starter in McKayla Kuykendall.
“You play them by not counting on just one or two players,’’ Ward said. “We’re counting on a whole team effort here.’’
Returning seniors Brooklyn Wiens, an honorable mention all-tournament selection; Hannah Jackson and Sydney Downing have taken charge of the leadership, Ward said.
Maressa Smith, who sat out last season, has come back and “is doing a good job,’’ Ward said.
Sophomore Ashley Atwood is a strong setter. Atwood is just one of many sophomores in key roles this season. She is joined in the lineup by classmates Christina Taylor, Kendra Kroeker, Savannah Price and Abby Potter.
Junior Madison Price, who had 67 digs in the tournament, is the team’s libero.
Ward doesn’t see his team being ranked in the top five in the first rankings expected to come out soon. The goal is to make it back to state.
“When you have the tradition we have, the expectations are going to be there,’’ he said. “We expect to be going to the state tournament every year. Every year you have a new group that has to figure out that you have to work for every point. It doesn’t take them very long to figure that out. The total team effort has been there.’’
OBA should be tested in the Chisholm Trail Conference which includes Southwest Covenant, St. Mary’s, Bethany, Crossings Christian, Oklahoma Christian School and Community Christian.
The Lady Trojans visit Ponca City Tuesday and go to Chisholm Aug. 26. Their next home game is against St. Mary’s Sept. 3.