By Blake Colston
Yukon senior volleyball player Kiley Baker’s defense has been a reliable asset for the Millers throughout her four-year career, but this season the 5-foot-9 senior has started to show off her all-around ability.
A middle blocker, Baker moved to right side hitter for Yukon’s game at sixth-ranked Owasso Aug. 18 in an effort to make the Millerettes more diverse offensively.
“She’s kind of versatile on the net and we thought she could be a bigger threat there,” head coach Hayden Robbins said.
The move paid dividends immediately. Baker registered a season-high 11 kills in only three sets and was strong on defense, adding three blocks. Baker said at first she was nervous to play a new position, but it didn’t take long for her to settle in.
“It was different getting to hit back-to-back in the same set,” Baker said, “and I really liked it because I had a good game and it felt nice to be able to help my team.”
Robbins said Baker’s work ethic and determination have stood out to her, even while YHS has endured a tough stretch of games that has included seven matchups against ranked opponents in the last three weeks.
“I think we’re making a bunch of progress and I think that’s going to continue,” said Baker, who early on bought into Robbins’ vision for the YHS program.
“I love new opportunities and having a new coach was so exciting to me,” she said.
There’s no place like home, as the saying goes, but Yukon wouldn’t know. The Millerettes (3-8) have hosted only two games this season, and one of those was played at YMS due to a scheduling conflict at the high school gymnasium.
An end to the long stretch of road games is in sight. YHS hosts Enid Aug. 29, but after that, two more weeks of road trips await. The Millerettes will travel to Piedmont Aug. 31, Stillwater Sept. 5 and Edmond North Sept. 7. YHS is scheduled to play just six of its 24 games this season at home.
“That’s kind of unfortunate, especially for the seniors,” Robbins said. “We haven’t been able to have that home crowd advantage much, but it hasn’t been too bad and I think the girls have handled it pretty well.”
Baker said the road trips have actually helped build team chemistry.
“When we’re on the road together we have all the time on the bus to talk to each other and that’s been good,” she said.
And when Yukon is able to go on the road and silence a big home crowd, it’s doubly rewarding, Baker said.
“When schools we’re playing against have really big student sections and we’re still able to keep up and play our game, I think that’s so incredible,” she said. “Because I know that a bunch of teams can’t do that.”
Following home losses to No. 2 Edmond Memorial and third-ranked Deer Creek earlier this season, the Millerettes are aiming to attract plenty of fans Tuesday for their next home match vs. Enid, which begins at 6 p.m.
“We’re hoping to start to peak as a team in the next couple of weeks while we play some less tougher teams,” Robbins said. “Hopefully, that will encourage some people to come out.”
YHS closes its regular season slate Sept. 28 with a senior night game vs. Norman High.