Hurricane volleyball hopes to turn awful to awesome

Hurricane volleyball hopes to turn awful to awesome

When the map went orange, Hurricane High School’s volleyball team saw red.

Because the Redskins were denied an opportunity to play in the state tournament last season because of COVID-19 restrictions, Hurricane’s players and coaches say they’re even more motivated to make it to the state tournament in Charleston this season.

The Redskins qualified for last year’s state tournament by finishing runner-up to Parkersburg in Class AAA Region 4. Putnam County, though, went orange on the state’s COVID-19 map two days later. Teams in counties that were red or orange weren’t allowed to participate in athletics.

It was awful,” Hurricane assistant coach Kristin Watkins said during the team’s first day of practice in its three-week summer workouts. “I wish we could have played, but it has made our kids hungry. I like our enthusiasm and positivity. They’re excited to be here.”

Watkins subbed for head coach Allie Pennington, who wasn’t available Tuesday. She put the players through drills, reminding them that mundane footwork exercises and jumping rope pay off in victories.

“We’re hoping,” said junior Grace Dickerson. “That feeling of not making it to states sticks with us. We want to do it. The majority of our players are returning and almost all of us play all year round. I expect a lot, like last year. When we went to the state tournament and watched, we thought, ‘I don’t know how we would do against those teams,’ but this year I think we’re better and can make it farther.”

Dickerson’s twin sister, Maggie, said she too thinks Hurricane can be a title contender this season, despite a young roster that features three seniors, two juniors and the rest freshmen and sophomores. According to MaxPreps, Maggie Dickerson led the state in assists per game in 2020 as the Redskins went 12-12.

“Qualifying last year, then the map changing and we couldn’t do it really lit a fire and we’re out to prove ourselves this year,” Maggie Dickerson said. “We’re excited.”

So is senior Kantley McKown, who took it hard that the team wasn’t allowed to play for a state championship.

“It gave me a lot of fire,” McKown said. “We earned it last year and it was disappointing we didn’t get to go.

Winning Region 4, let alone the state, is a challenge. Cabell Midland, Spring Valley and Parkersburg have been to the state tournament in recent seasons, with the Knights and Timberwolves reaching the finals. Spring Valley won it all in 2018. Last season’s success, though, has Hurricane optimistic it can make another run.

“We’ve been a young team and I guess you could say we’re still a young team, but we have more upperclassmen than we’ve had in two or three years,” Grace Dickerson said. “Still not many, but more than we’ve had, and that will help. I know Midland lost some seniors, but they’re always good. Spring Valley we didn’t play last year, but they’re always good. Parkersburg is good.”

Watkins said the three-week period will be good to help a young squad come together.

“We expect to get in shape first of all,” Watkins said. “They’re not in shape. We want to get our freshmen acclimated to our program.”

McKown said the freshmen are promising and she feels as a senior it’s her duty to help bring them along.

“To be captain and lead, showing the younger one how to play as a team and respect each other, to not give up,” McKown said. “That was a problem for us in the past, but this team has potential to win the state tournament. We’ll get in reps and plenty of work, get to know each other and bond as a team.”

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