Year two has already kicked off for the Hilmar High varsity boys volleyball team, but it didn’t start without some changes.
First, the team welcomed new head coach Fatima Handy, who is a local that already saw success as the Turlock High girls volleyball assistant this past fall, helping the team win their first ever Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section Championship.
Next was the immediate injury to last year’s captain and setter Colton Silveira, who is out for several weeks with a damaged shoulder.
“Big difference from last year was that Colton Silveira was the setter and running a five-one, and so he might be back in a few weeks, so now our libero from last year is at setter,” said Handy. “That completely changed our game, so our team is completely different, it’s like losing your quarterback, but I am so proud of the kids for stepping up.”
Despite the early setbacks, the Yellowjackets have hit the court hard and continue to take strides after every game.
With the first nine games under their belts, their record stands at 3-6.
“Development is critical, so we have two teams,” said Handy about boasting a JV and varsity squad.
So far, the JV squad is comprised of nine players while the varsity team has 10.
“We travel with the kids to tournaments and we move players up to compete at tournaments because we are trying to build the program,” said Handy. “We are giving a lot of time to everyone so right now I am not looking at wins or losses because I am worried about the development and that really is my strategy.”
Handy says that she wants to make sure the team is coming out and enjoying themselves and doing well in school.
“That is where we are at, kids are excited because they are playing and they want to be on the court so we can do that,” said Handy.
In their first season just a year ago, the Yellowjackets managed to accrue an overall record of 24-10, earning a berth in the Division-III Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
They earned their first postseason win after toppling Lodi Academy, 3-0, in the first round before falling to Manteca on the road in the next round.
“We are senior heavy but we have a lot of new players, so we are still teaching the fundamentals of getting better after every match,” said Handy. “It’s an evolution, we started with passing and serve receive and then hitting, and they are real eager to learn and have a great attitude.”
Next Hilmar will travel on the road to Atwater to take on Buhach Colony at 6:30 p.m. Monday.