By BUTCH HARMON
While the Morrice volleyball team started the season with sub .500 record, Oriole coach Brandy Gutting has her team right where she wants it to be.
Although the Orioles began the season with a 7-12 record, a look inside the numbers would tell you that the win-loss record is a bit misleading for a couple reasons.
For one, the Orioles suffered some early-season injuries that kept some regulars out of the lineup.
“The season’s been going pretty good,” Gutting said. “We started out a little shaky, we had a couple of injuries, and a couple of starters were banged up. The last couple of weeks we’ve had a full roster.”
While the injured players were out, a number of younger players gained some varsity experience.
“We were out two starters at the beginning of the season, so I brought up a couple of sophomores to fill in,” Gutting said. “We’re a small team. We only have 10 players on the varsity.”
Another factor in the early-season record of the team has been the competition that the Orioles face.
“We’ve been playing all C and B schools,” Gutting said. “I like to get the girls to a couple of the bigger tournaments before conference play. I think it better prepares us, and I think it’s good for them.”
Morrice turned in a 27-16 record last season. The winning season was the fifth in a row for the Orioles.
A total of five players return from last year’s team, including four seniors and a junior.
Two of the returnees earned all-conference honors last season. Brianna Clark, the libero or defensive specialist, was a first-team, all-conference player, while outside hitter Chelsea Wesler earned second-team, all-conference honors.
Senior Karlie Atkinson returns as the team’s setter, and Ashton Morris is a returning middle blocker. Kelsey Butcher returns at outside hitter.
Mixing in with the veterans are five newcomers. Juniors Autumn Dunckel, Mary London, and Sam Miller will see action along with sophomores Barbara Broomfield and Marilyn Decker.
“Our strong points are our outside hitters,” Gutting said. “They are our go-to girls. We’re small but we band together. We don’t have a lot of height, but we are quick. We have to be a quick team. Being from a small school, we also have good team bonding. It’s not like the big schools where you can pick and choose. I get what I’m handed, and I like it that way. The girls really come together and bond. That is what helps us compete and do well.”
By BUTCH HARMON