Viera volleyball feeding off new energy around program


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There's a big buzz around the Viera High School volleyball team and seniors Delaney Lott, Chloe Arellano, Makena Wagner, Marisa Hulmes, Madi Hintz and Taylor Calloway are a big reason why.

CARL KOTALA

Every season is different, of course, but if you ask the coaches and players on the Viera High volleyball team, this season … feels different.

“I’m super excited for this season,” senior Delaney Lott said. “I think it’s going to be not like any other I’ve had in my four years.

“We have a different energy and we have new girls to the team that I think are going to bring us up to the next level.”

Viera had 70 girls at tryouts for this season, giving the team depth not just on the varsity level, but on the JV and freshman levels as well.

During the summer, coach Sarah Wayne took some players to a tournament in Tampa where they competed against some of the best teams in the state and held their own.

“I’m really excited,” Wayne said. “The program as a whole is one of the strongest we’ve ever had. … It just feels different this year.”

Lott, a four-year varsity player, is one of six seniors on this year’s team. She’s joined by Madi Hintz, Makena Wagner, Marisa Hulmes, Chloe Arellano and Taylor Callaway.

“I can’t remember, off the top of my head, the last time I had that many seniors,” Wayne said. “That just shows the maturity level of this team.

“All the years of playing, not only for me, but in the offseason and club … the expectations that they’ve had and the growth that they’ve seen this team do kind of anchor those expectations of winning and that culture.”

In addition to the seniors, the Hawks also have two sophomore returners in Kelly Merz and Hannah Bradford. Junior Savannah Reiser is also back along with junior Lauren Lewis, who was brought up from the JV team late last year.

The Hawks also will benefit from the play of transfer Hailey Leitem and freshman Sydney Williams, who had seven blocks and five kills in her debut last month.

With the FHSAA changing its format so that teams aren’t required to play district opponents during the regular season, and with postseason seeding now being determined by MaxPrep rankings, the Hawks’ schedule has a different look this season.

The Cape Coast Conference, which had been split into a North and South division, is now just one division. In addition, Wayne has scheduled the Hawks to play some of the state’s perennial title contenders — and winners — with a game at Bishop Moore and a tournament in Venice.

“Our goals are really high this year,” said Wayne, who listed winning the CCC title and the district tournament among them.

“Every year, we always say that. But there’s just something about this squad and the overall feeling (around the program).”