BOONVILLE — Despite losing four seniors from last season, Starmount’s volleyball team is ready to go, and has a message for its doubters.
“Don’t doubt us until you see us play,” sophomore Maggie Freed said. “We’re going to come out strong.”
“It was the same way last year as well,” Ashley Johnson, the team’s lone senior, said. “And we definitely overcame a lot of stuff, and I think we can do just as well this year.”
Head Coach Jon Symons has built the team into a championship-caliber team, and has delivered on four different occasions. At moments on the court during Monday’s practice, the varsity squad had one senior, three freshmen and two sophomores, so Symons knows the challenge he has on his hands.
“The experience that [the team] is going to get early, and understanding the way that I think the game should be played is hopefully going to be an eye opener for them,” Symons said. “When they understand what it means to be competitive, then I think we’re going to see a lot of improvements. I’m excited to see the improvements from the younger kids.”
Maggie Freed has emerged in a big way in practice before her sophomore season begins on Aug. 22. Her aggressive play as the season went on last year made her stand out as someone who’s likely to get plenty of touches this season.
“[Her] armswing is getting better. She’s improved all around, and the biggest thing with that is consistency [for everyone],” Symons said. “If we can limit her errors, that’s what I’m looking for, and she’s done a great job with that.”
This season presents an additional challenge not just with experience, but with size.
“We’re not big. We’re tiny. We’re going to have to be a good defensive team,” Symons said.
2013 was the last time the team won the state championship. Only Ashley Johnson and junior Sarah Wagoner were on the varsity squad when they got to hoist the trophy they wanted. For Johnson, it’s her last chance to add another championship to her résumé.
“That would be absolutely amazing, and I believe in the girls,” Johnson said. “I think we can do it if we work hard and come together as a team. I have faith in them.”
Starmount’s first four games of the season are at home, starting with a doubleheader on Aug. 22 against Randleman and North Surry. The game against Randleman is at 10 a.m., and then North Surry is at 2 p.m. The non-conference play against statistically stronger teams will likely prepare them for a deep run in the playoffs if they make it. In October alone, seven of their nine matches are at home. Look for them to prove doubters wrong this year.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.