By Chuck Reherman
A challenging week to open the season.
That’s what’s facing Yukon’s volleyball team in the first week of the campaign.
The Millerettes will face a perennial top 10-ranked team in Edmond Memorial Thursday at Memorial, then turn around and head south to Norman to compete in the Norman Invitational Tournament.
The varsity match will begin at 6 p.m. following the freshman at 4 p.m. and the junior varsity at 5 p.m.
The Millerettes faced Memorial twice last year, once in a Metro Athletic Conference match and the second in the class 6A Region IV tournament at Memorial.
The Lady Bulldogs are again ranked in the top 10 and will present a challenge to the Millerettes with their strong inside game and strong hitters.
“We’ve had Memorial as one of our first games for many seasons now, and I love the challenge,” Millerette head coach Rachel Allred said. “I love jumping right in and letting the girls see from the start how competitive our conference is. It gives us the opportunity to really push ourselves and play to our best ability in a tough environment.
“Last time we played at Memorial was last season in play-offs, which was one of our strongest play-off appearances in our program’s history,” she said. “I think our returning varsity players feel confident coming into their gym. But we also know its always hard to play away, and the COVID precautions this season will also affect the crowd’s influence a bit I expect.”
The Millerettes have a strong group of hitters returning led by Addy Wimmer, Rachel Kittell and Katie Clark. Kaitlin Biswell and Kaylee Coleman will also factor in to the hitting as right side and outside hitters.
YHS has Kashlei Vo returning as a setter and Allred has a group of younger players that she is counting on the step in and play big roles.
“I expect the same from this group that I always do of my varsity, and that’s to make it to the state tournament,” Allred said. “We are talented and capable, and this group of seniors knows they can’t take this season for granted and are out to make history.
“Varsity setters this season will be Kashlei (returning) and Jenna (Kenley),” she said. Libbie (Hughs) and Brooklynn (Bennett” continue to compete at the libero position.
The Millerettes turn around on Friday and play in the Norman Invitational tournament, which will also be a challenge with a group of eighth teams that are always competing for a state berth.
The Millerettes will be in pool B with Mustang, host Norman and Edmond Deer Creek. Pool A features Southmoore, Broken Arrow, Edmond Santa Fe and Ponca City.
Yukon opens pool round play against Deer Creek at 10:30 a.m. Friday, then plays Mustang at Noon. The Millerettes cap pool round play at 3 p.m. against Norman.
Bracket play begins on Saturday and will be determined by finish. The top two teams in each pool will play in the Gold Bracket and the bottom two teams in the Silver Bracket. Matches will start at 9 a.m. and the championship matches will be played at 3 p.m.
“I’m super excited for this extremely challenging tournament,” Allred said. “We will be up against some top teams in the state and it will be a great challenge for us. It will be a long weekend, but the girls have been working hard for almost a month now, and we feel prepared and ready to test our fitness and perserverence.
“We’ll need to come off strong from Thursday’s game and keep our positivity and energy thoughout the weekend,” she added.”