By Chris Parker
Hollister volleyball will look to improve upon last year’s nine-win season. The Lady Tigers enter their second year in the Big 8 East, which coach Alexis Mitchell hopes will help prepare Hollister for postseason competition.
“The Big 8 East is full of great competition. When you have a conference like that, each conference match up you have to bring your ‘A’ game. There are no teams where we feel we can take a night off. Any night it can be anyone’s game, and if you don’t come in with a mindset ready to compete, you will struggle in the conference. I like having it that way, there is always an opportunity to get better. I am very proud to be a part of the Big 8 East conference,” Mitchell said.
Senior Alli Mutillo returns to lead Hollister this year after earning honorable mention all-conference honors as a setter last year.
“Alli Mutillo is a very special athlete. We feel very blessed that she is a part of our team. Since she is a senior, I am excited for her to step into a leadership role, but leadership on and off the court is never something that Alli has veered away from or struggled with. She has earned respect from her teammates because Alli would never ask someone to do something she would not do or is not doing herself. But I think this year, it will be special in that she will be a part of that senior leadership along with Libero, Drew Henderson. Alli’s experience plays a vital role in our team this year. I believe that she is one of the best setters in the area. She has a great volleyball IQ and so I never worry about where she feels comfortable putting the ball. I also know that when I tell her to run something or give it to a specific player, she will deliver. We will have a more inexperienced team this year, and so it also helps that she has that confidence on the court to lead those younger girls. As I mentioned earlier, Alli has always been a leader for our team, but I expect her to take that leadership to a new level this year since she will be a senior,” Mitchell said.
Drew Henderson will be the other half of Hollister’s leadership core as a libero.
“Drew is an extremely hard worker and is very coachable. I love having her in this position because she is so scrappy and never fears hitting the floor. She is another great leader for our team. She has a very gentle way of approaching others, which I think works really well,” Mitchell said. “She brings a great energy to the team. She has come in this summer and has worked really hard on to make some changes that will really help her game. I have been very proud of the leadership she has already shown this summer and her eagerness to get better. We are very lucky to have her.”
Juniors Kylan McClintic (outside hitter) and Alvia Hackman (middle hitter) and sophomore Emily Young (defensive specialist) also return to impact the varsity lineup.
Aubrey Henson (junior setter), Jackie Pyatt (junior middle hitter) and Sam Grogan (sophomore outside hitter) are new faces to the varsity lineup.
“I think that we have a great opportunity this year to show great success. In order for this to happen, we are going to play with a lot of heart. That is not really something I am concerned about with this group. They are competitors and they like to be with one another, they treat each other like family,” Mitchell said. “Because we will have so many new faces to the lineup this year, we will have to have our returners step up and come in with a complete focus night in and night out. If everyone accepts their role on the team, we can have great success. This group has a lot of talent and I believe that if they play together as a team and not as individuals, we will have great success.”
Hollister opens the season on Sept. 3 at home against Lockwood.