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Oak Ridge wraps up solid volleyball season

By: Nick Pecoraro Telegraph Correspondent
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The Oak Ridge girls’ volleyball team finished the 2011 season with a 21-12 record — a seven-game improvement in terms of winning percentage from the 2010 campaign — with a team that head coach Becky Potter says that she will remember for a long time. “The girls made it fun for me,” she said. “It was easy to be light-hearted with them and have fun while still trying to compete.” Oak Ridge charged through the first two rounds of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, defeating Tokay and Monterey Trail before falling to St. Mary’s in the semifinals. The Lady Trojans hovered around the .500 mark (7-7) on Sept. 22 after the Archbishop Mitty Invitational in San Jose. Oak Ridge then rebounded to win 14 of its final 19 matches while avenging two early-season losses to Napa and Christian Brothers. Once Delta River League action began, Oak Ridge placed second at 8-2, losing twice only to eventual league and section champion St. Francis. The Troubadours would go undefeated in league play and would only suffer two set losses throughout league play — one of which to Oak Ridge — all season. Potter recorded career victory No. 100 on Oct. 1 with a 2-1 victory against Nevada Union during the Christian Brothers’ Great 8 Tournament. She now carries a 110-46 record over her first four years as Oak Ridge varsity coach. The 110 wins during Potter’s four-year coaching tenure at ORHS were also shared from a player’s vantage by a pair of perennial All-Conference threats in middle blocker Haley Simmons and outside hitter Alexa Becker. The duo spent all four years on Potter’s varsity squad from 2008 through 2011. “I’m glad that win (No. 100) was with this squad, especially having Haley and Alexa because they’ve been here from the first win,” said Potter. Simmons, the vocal leader of the crew, carried much of the hitting responsibilities, leading the Trojans with 360 kills, 42 aces and a 29.2 hit percentage. Becker, more of the lead-by-example type, displayed a versatile front- and back-row presence with 174 kills and 234 digs. “This team had great chemistry and heart. We had confidence and support in each other, even when it came to the hard games,” said Simmons, who led Oak Ridge in kills in 28 of the team’s 33 matches, including a career-high 19 in a five-game win over Ponderosa. “Oak Ridge has such a strong program and all the girls were so much fun to play with. It’s been an amazing four years,” said Becker. Oak Ridge had a solid supporting cast. Junior Maddie Chambliss (team-high 380 digs) emerged into one of the league’s premier liberos. Junior hitters Mysha Davies (166 kills) and Amelia Crye (101 kills) improved throughout the year and will give Potter a formidable outside tandem to look forward to in 2012. Setter Tara McDermott averaged 7.5 assists per game and senior middle Arden Zuber consistently played much bigger than her petite 5’8” stature would imply. “I don’t know how you replace someone like Arden. She’s only 5’8” but when she’s on the court, she plays like she’s 6’5”,” Potter said. Potter concluded by saying, “It’s always hard to end the season sooner than you want it to but I feel like a proud mama. We overcame a ton of obstacles without compromising our integrity or our character. We came from 7-7 to finish at 21-12. I’d say that’s a pretty successful season.”