Plenty of new faces at Blair Oaks volleyball camp

Ryan Dudenhoeffer and Cassie Twehous jump to try and block a hit during Blair Oaks volleyball camp Wednesday in Wardsville.

Ryan Dudenhoeffer and Cassie Twehous jump to try and block a hit during Blair Oaks volleyball camp Wednesday in Wardsville. Photo by Julie Smith.

WARDSVILLE — You might not recognize a lot of faces on the Blair Oaks volleyball team this fall.

Having graduated nine players from the 2012 squad and returning only a combined seven incoming juniors and seniors, the unfamiliarity shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

As the Blair Oaks volleyball camp wrapped up Wednesday, it’s all about finding some semblance of continuity for the Lady Falcons.

“I’m not going to use the term rebuilding, because I think everyone every year rebuilds,” Blair Oaks head coach Joy Northweather said. “This year we’re just light on the top half. We have very slim numbers in terms of juniors and seniors.

“It’s a totally new ball club. There’s a lot of learning to go on with the skills, and just learning expectations.”

With 25 of the 32 players in camp underclassmen, the freshmen and sophomores will have to shoulder a lot of the load on the varsity team.

“We’re very excited about the kids we have coming in and the kids we have returning from last year,” Northweather said. “It’s going to be new and exciting.”

Of the varsity returnees, names like Paige Stockman, Maggie Hoskins and Jessica Clark stand out to Northweather. There’s no doubt about what she expects from those upperclassmen.

“A lot of leadership,” Northweather said. “I think they’re excited. When you lose the huge numbers that we did, they were a little bit worried. They’re excited about the new kids coming in and how some of our returning sophomores and juniors have grown.”

The early returns have been positive.

“The first tournament we played down in Eldon, I think everyone was pleasantly surprised how we clicked,” Northweather said.

While Northweather is trying to track down another tournament or two this summer, some other offseason plans are set in stone.

Blair Oaks leaves today for a two-day Licking Summer Camp in Rolla.

“I’d like to see a strong showing at team camp,” Northweather said. “This week, some of the kids have started to click. My returning varsity hitters are hitting off different setters and that’s going to take time to get used to. Just some continuity.”

As the calendar nears July, a new season creeps closer and closer. For a team coming off a 24-4-1 campaign that resulted in a title-game loss in the Class 2 District 7 Tournament to Fatima, the eventual state champion, there are many questions still to be answered for a team set to be teeming with varsity neophytes.

“You have to go into every season with a positive attitude,” Northweather said. “I think we might surprise some people this year, or at least I hope so.”

Only time will tell.

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