Wharton Wildcats the Team to Beat?
The Wildcats volleyball team is the hottest team in the area but an unblemished record is not enough for head coach Eric Barber.
How can the Wildcats not be the team to beat at this point in the season? They are 15-0, having recently knocked off Steinbrenner and Gaither. It's not enough, if you ask coach Eric Barber.
"We still haven't beat Bloomingdale, yet," Barber said.
Barber wants to leave no doubt and nothing to chance. Cross Durant and Plant off the list, the Wildcats beat them already this year. Tonight, they take on Newsome High School.
Barber knows going into districts as the team to beat is no guarantee. The Wildcats were the top seed in 2011 but fell to the Plant Panthers in the district semifinals. Fortunatley, the Wildcats got the Plant monkey off their back when they beat them for the first time back on September 10 of this year.
The Wildcats knocked off another back-monkey when they beat Steinbrenner for the first time in school history. The 2012 Wildcats are poised to have their best season yet.
It goes without saying that senior outside hitter Caci Andreychuk is one of if not the most powerful hitters in the county. She is fourth in all of Class 8A in kills per set with 4.7. Her versatility makes her even more dangerous. She can dig from the back line, she can pass, set and she can put down a kill shot from almost anywhere on the court.
Bolstering an already formidable front line, Wharton boasts four six-foot athletes, not including Andreychuk, who is listed at 5 foot 11 inches. The main blocking force at the net is sophomore Avery Day. Her blocks (56) and blocks per set (1.4) lead all of Class 8A. Senior setter Ashton Stocker is also a six-footer, junior Hannah Kaczmarek, and freshman Lindsey Schaible round out the forest of blockers that Wharton can present you with.
Even if you can get past the blocking force at the net, the Wildcats field freshman libero Chanelle Hargreaves, who is averaging four digs per set.
"The last two years, we've really focused on blocking," Barber said. "This year, we're making sure that back row is ready behind the blockers."
The Wildcats do not play a heavy tournament schedule. They face a very good Freedom team on October 9 and then that looming match with Bloomingdale on October 11. Then they are pretty much on cruise control until district playoffs at Durant, starting Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Tonight's Game (Oct. 4):
Wharton versus Newsome
When: 7:30 p.m.