The Wylie Pirates have high expectations in 2023 and aim to reach them once again.
The team is used to being a playoff team year after year, but after finishing third last season in District 9-6A, head coach Sherry Olivares aims to compete even further this season.
“It’s going to be exciting for us that’s for sure,” Olivares said. “We’ll see what we can do, but we have a lot of experience and hopefully that plays into our hand and we can take advantage of that.”
That returning experience comes from the Wylie attack, where four of their top five kill leaders last season all returned. Outside hitter Addison Hinckley led the way with 302 kills, while Karson Barclow, Annie Tucker and Cherish Okpara all had significant contributions in helping Wylie win 28 games last season.
For the Pirates to return to success again, it’ll be up to those players leading the way from the front, with Hinckley and Barclow the leaders of the team with the most experience.
“They’ve gotten better over the summer and between that and our new players coming in, it’s a really good mix of old and new,” Olivares said. “People kind of know their role and it depends on if they can come through in the big games or not.”
They’ll have to make up for the loss of several major defensive pieces for the Pirates, starting in the middle blocker role after the graduation of Trinity Blackwood and Alexa Ossei.
Blackwood was one of the most experienced players in the Wylie volleyball program and had 87 blocks last season, and replacing her experience and talent will be a tough challenge for the team.
“It’s still kind of to be determined how we’re going to fill that spot for next season,” Olivares said. “We had a good offseason and are trying a few different girls, but we lose a lot of height in that position. We have players I believe can be productive in their own different ways.”
Along with Blackwood, the Pirates lost starting libero Lauren Morano. Both she and Blackwood were the last two players to play for Wylie’s regional finals team of a few seasons ago and leaves a big hole on the back row after she had 371 digs last season.
Luckily for the Pirates, that position has an easier transition with the return of Sadie Warren, who moves from defensive specialist to libero in 2023. She had 175 digs last year and is one of the top servers in the program with 97 aces over the last two years. Her experience on the back row for two years has her set up perfectly to take on the new position.
“She’s got experience back there and that will help a lot, but Lauren had a lot of experience for us,” Olivares said. “We like the people we have coming in and don’t think there will be a lot of drop off. We feel confident about our back row.”
Wylie’s volleyball season is set to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 8 on the road against McKinney and Frisco Lone Star. The team’s first home game will be on Aug. 15, before their first district game at home on Aug. 22 against Sachse. With the season right around the corner, coach Olivares is excited to see what her team can do for the new season.
“My personal goal is to see us win a district championship,” Olivares said. “Sachse has been on a long run and we want to be the team that changes that. If we win an outright championship, we can run deep in the playoffs and do well in big games.”
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