Hawks ready to make another push for district title

Viera High School's volleyball team will contend for a district title this season and Kelly Merz, left, Mak Carter, Sydney Williams and Hannah Bradford are a big reason why.

Make no mistake about it, when it comes to the 2021 volleyball season, the Viera Hawks are all in.

“Every single one of my (players) played year-round, so the culture at Viera is becoming one where they are very serious about doing a lot of good things and making a statement,” Hawks coach Sarah Wayne said.

“They are putting in the work, not just from August to October. They really want it.”

After reaching last year’s district title game, this year’s Viera team, led by senior co-captains Hannah Bradford and Kelly Merz, is determined to put up a championship banner before their high school careers are over.

“We’re definitely motivated this year,” said Bradford, who along with Merz has been playing varsity volleyball since her freshman year.

“I think it’s very important,” Merz said. “We’ve been super close to winning districts, but every year we fall short. I think it’s weighing kind of heavier on us because we’ve been here the longest.

“We want to be the ones that can actually win districts and move on further than we’ve been before.”

With eight returners from last year’s team and the addition of four new players, Viera’s captains said they will be confident in whomever is out on the floor at any given time.

“I would say we’re really deep, meaning we’re full of talent,” Merz said. “There’s not a player on our bench that couldn’t be put in and be given an opportunity and succeed at what they’re trying to do.”

Bradford, a libero, will anchor the team’s defense while Kelly Merz and her sister, Mallory Merz, are back as the team’s setters. The Hawks have a couple of big hitters in junior Sydney Williams on the outside and junior Mak Carter in the middle along with senior Angie Durso.

Other returners include defensive specialist Hannah Carpenter and setter/defensive specialist Hailey Hubbard.

New to this year’s varsity roster are senior middle blocker Melissa Faber; junior defensive specialist Kendall McClenahan; sophomore outside hitter Kasey Morgan and freshman right-side hitter Hailey Beigh.

With 83 players going out for the Viera program this year, the Hawks certainly seem to be moving in the right direction as their talent pool continues to grow.

“I think with that we all push each other because there’s so much talent,” Bradford said. “We know anyone can go in for any position, so we have to work extremely hard in practice to keep our spots.”

It’s all that hard work and dedication that the Hawks believe will help push them over the top.

“We’re all extremely hard workers,” Kelly Merz said. “I definitely can see us reaching our goals. We’re all just going to push each other.”