Coach: Senior-Dominated Volleyball Team Talented, Improving

Every team has its ups and downs throughout a season, and Ottawa Hills' volleyball team is no different.

The Green Bears, under first-year coach Jordan Kielty, evened their overall record to 9-9 and ran their Toledo Area Athletic Conference record to 6-4 with a win over Emmanuel Christian on Oct. 5

"We're doing much better than at the beginning of the season," Kielty said the day before the Emmanuel Christian match. "I told them if they improved each game and each practice, I'm happy."

Kielty said it took some time for the squad to get used to her coaching style. She added that she noticed why others from outside the program told her this year's squad is the most talented the school has had in years.

"It took us a while to get going this season, as far as learning how to play together," Kielty said. "They have the talent. I kept being told our girls are really good, but we just weren't able to finish or win some games. We have gotten some confidence and gotten better. I really like this group of girls. They're fun to work with and they are great athletes."

Ottawa Hills features a senior-dominated lineup that also includes a junior and one freshman.

Senior captain Kara Nowakowski, the team's setter, has played varsity volleyball since she was a freshman. She was a setter and outside hitter for most of her career.

"She is my player that I look to, even in practice, and she's very consistent," Kielty said. "She doesn't have many highs and lows. She works hard and she is quieter than the other girls. She leads by example and does what she's supposed to do. It will be sad to see her and Josie go."

Josie Harter, a senior captain, plays outside hitter.

"She loves the sport of volleyball, so she is always finding ways to make it positive and encourage the girls to play," Kielty said. "She's always determined to win. I got her when she was a sophomore. Seeing her now as a senior, she's more consistent and she has improved in the back row as well. Her and Emma (Rumman) are pretty comparable as far as kills for the season and kill percentage per match. They're both my go-to players on the team."

Rumman, a freshman outside hitter, transferred to Ottawa Hills over the summer. She is the Bears' top point scorer.

"Emma has been a standout since I got her," Kielty said. "She loves the game and wants to play in college, and she has had an unbelievable season. When you see her, she doesn't look like a freshman. She still has some things to work out, things like strength training in the offseason, where she could be even better."

Senior captain Evie Scharer plays right side hitter and middle hitter. Kielty said Scharer is one of the team's most vocal players.

"All the girls love her and she wants to do well and please people," the coach said. "She's not one of my top point scorers and she's not as consistent as some of the other girls, but she's definitely someone we would miss and probably not do as well without. She is active in the middle and she's played that position for several years now."

Senior right side hitter Annika Richards is a three-year varsity player and one of the Bears' most consistent hitters, according to Kielty.

"She can get the ball in the court," Kielty said. "She always plays hard and she plays aggressively. She is very determined to win. You can tell she's played volleyball for a long time. Her arm swing is down and the technique is down."

Senior libero Joy Kim was a defensive specialist and back row player last season. She also played some matches on the junior varsity team because of the jayvee teams's low numbers, Kielty said.

"At the beginning of the season I had no idea what I wanted to do and who I wanted to pick for that libero position," Kielty said. "I put Joy there and she's impressed me ever since. She's maybe played volleyball for three years and she's super athletic. She listens and is super coachable. I couldn't imagine having anyone else at libero because of how she's played in that role."

The junior starter is Kaleigh Carson, a right-side hitter. Kielty said Carson is a strong blocker and "can be very aggressive."

"She has played very well the last few matches, better than I've ever seen her play," Kielty said. "She has definitely stepped up. She will have some big shoes to fill, being a junior and the seniors leaving us this year. She will basically be the lone hitter on the team, with Emma, to bring us back next season."

The Bears' Division IV sectional tournament matches will be held at Napoleon.


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