Oak Ridge volleyball preparing for playoffs

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge High’s volleyball team begins its quest for a third straight section title at 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against Franklin. Unlike past years, the Lady Trojans aren’t looked at as one of the teams to beat. Oak Ridge enters the playoffs with a record of 18 wins and 16 losses and is the No. 5 seed in the Division I bracket following top-seeded St. Francis, St. Mary’s, Ponderosa and Lincoln of Stockton, who is Oak Ridge’s likely second-round opponent on Nov. 11. “I’m kind of surprised we’re seeded as high as we are, but ultimately I think that’s because of how tough our league is,” Oak Ridge coach Becky Potter said. “I keep telling our girls that it was a big accomplishment for us to finished tied with Ponderosa for second in our league. I think beating them helped our seeding, but I think it’s right that they’re seeded higher than us. Their physicality is above and beyond what we have.” Overall, Potter said the fifth seed is a good place for her team. If they can beat Franklin, they’d have a difficult opponent in Lincoln of Stockton, 17-3 on the season. “As the fifth seed, there’s no pressure on us and we can go out and have fun and try to surprise some teams,” Potter said. Potter said being mentally tough and playing good defense will be important if the team is to make a run at a third straight section title. She said the team had a great talk Thursday, led by middle blockers Haley Simmons and Arden Zuber. “Haley said last year’s playoff run was the most fun she’s ever had on any team she’s been on,” Potter said. “She said it was fun because the team never worried about whether or not they were going to win and instead just bonded as a team. Last year’s team never felt the pressure because they were having so much fun playing for each other.” Another motivating factor, Potter said, is that team captain Katie Vaughn is a senior and if the team wants to continue playing with her, they need to keep winning.