A coaching change takes some getting used to. When it happens during a pandemic and you can’t see one another, time is of the essence.
First year Oxford Volleyball head coach Ashley Martin only finished tryouts a little more than two weeks ago and practice will officially start Monday, August 10. The only times they’ve been able to get together is during summer workouts, and that was before tryouts before many of the new players that earned a spot on the team from tryouts could join the returning members of the team. COVID-19 has put a damper on all sports programs, but those that had to go through a coaching change have not had the face-to-face time, or mask-to-mask time in this case, to really install the style of play a coach likes to play at.
Personel-wise, Oxford lost four seniors to graduation from last season that went 22-15-1 and won their district with a perfect 6-0 record, but lost in the first round at home to the Lewisburg Lady Patriots in four sets. Two of those seniors routinely started as defensive specialists and the other two were in the rotation. Oxford only lost 12 percent of their kill production to graduation and returns their entire starting front row from last season, but lost 39 percent of their digging production.
Martin will have the unique experience to inherit a team that does not have a senior on the roster this season, so barring something unusual, Martin will have the entire current roster for her first two years as a coach.
Expected starters based on stats from last season include returning junior setter Catherine Bianco who had 756 assists last season and also is the leading returning player in blocks with 69. Expected outside hitters include sophomore Brianna Lyons who led the team in service aces last season with 47 and was second on the team in kills with 277. Junior Ansley Tacke led the team in kills with 304 and also tallied 49 blocks last season. Freshmen Michael Ann East was also a big contributor with 171 kills. Freshmen Madi Jones was second on team as an eighth-grader in digs last season with 343.
Oxford’s first game of the season will be a region match at Horn Lake August 24. A complete preview of the Oxford Lady Charger volleyball season can be heard on the OLR Sports Podcast on Apple Podcasts here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/olr-sports-podcast/id1504787827#episodeGuid=Buzzsprout-4876115