OTHELLO — Although the Huskies lost five players, including four outside hitters to graduation, head coach Steve Parris expects the team to compete for a district playoff berth.
“The biggest thing we are strong on this year is our scrappiness,” Parris said. “I think we are stronger in both athleticism and scrappiness. We lost some good players, but I think our kids are ready to step up.”
Othello returns two seniors: setter Macy Hampton and middle Ashley Hawley; and three juniors: libero Clarissa Martinez, setter Janeisse Alvarez and middle Alyssa Freeman.
The five returning varsity players plus promotion from junior varsity leaves Parris with what he expects to be a solid group.
“This year is probably one of the deepest teams I have ever had,” Parris said. “The kids are fighting daily for their spot.”
The offseason club experience has helped to build a program designed to be competitive.
“We have had some exceptional athletes come through at OHS, but we felt what we needed to do was to make sure the next girl, the ones next to the exceptional one, could contribute,” Parris said.
The Huskies success this year may depend on the players ability to move around to a new position.
“We are looking to moving Alyssa Freeman to the outside,” Parris said. “I would love to be able to move Alyssa Hawley to the outside as well. Those are two hitters that can hit the ball down, but they are also our top two blockers.”
To move Freeman and Hawley to the outside, Parris will need to find players who can fill the middle blocking role. Last year’s junior varsity had three players listed at 5-foot-9, including junior Taylor Taff.
“We are a little taller and we have some mighty mites — they are not very big, about 5’4”, but they know to play, having played club volleyball since they were 10 or 11.” Parris said.
The mighty mites include Ashley Garza, Julissa Cantu and Emily Garza. All three have brothers or sisters or both who have left their mark on Othello athletics.
The scrappiness coach Parris sees in his club will be needed to be competitive in a league known for its powerhouse volleyball teams.
“We are going to have to fight to be competitive in our league,” Parris said. “Ellensburg and Prosser are probably the top two this year. Prosser has two middles that are phenomenal and they are going to make things tough on everybody.”
The Huskies will host Grandview today at 7 p.m. Although the contest is considered nonleague, it should give Othello a chance to see how they stack up to one of the traditional powers in the CWAC.