At first glance, Incline's varsity volleyball roster looks suspiciously like JV.
Seven sophomores and a freshman make up the bulk of the 11-player Incline squad, while the Highlanders return only one senior and two juniors from last year's team.
But that's OK, said Incline head coach Tacy Kelly, who is excited about what she considers a promising youth movement.
“We're definitely young, but we have a lot of talent,” Kelly said. “We're just trying to get everybody to work together more and get used to each other and build that trust and unity as a team.”
So far so good, Kelly said, as her Highlanders are off to a 4-4 start, including a tight win in five games over West Wendover this past Friday, 22-25, 25-13, 23-25, 25-20, 15-6 (they played Portola on Tuesday night, but results were not available). Incline has wins against Division I-A (formerly 3A) Spring Creek and Elko, as well as traditional Division III (formerly 2A) power Whittell.
“We're growing,” Kelly said. “Every day we get better. We're trying to build a new reputation for the team.”
Katie Orlady returns as the only senior on the team, holding down the back row as Incline's former libero — Kelly said she's “not really running a libero” this year. Orlady serves as co-team captain along with junior Ronni Flores.
“She is definitely trying to fill that leadership role and showing things to the young kids,” Kelly said of Orlady, who at 5-foot-1 brings a scrappy game and competitive spirit. “She's a big help.”
Incline will also lean heavily on Flores, a starting outside hitter, as well as sophomore middle blocker Claire Kent, freshman middle blocker Kira Porter, and sophomore setters Sophia Shorin and Megan Golden.
“I'm running a 6-2 (offense), so we have two setters, Megan and Sophia, and they're both really solid setters,” Kelly said. “That's definitely not one of my weaker spots.”
The coach also has been impressed with her young attackers. Aside from Kent, a 5-foot-10-inch talent, Porter, at 6 foot, has already proven herself as a force at the net — and she's only getting better.
“To make varsity as a freshman and start is definitely an accomplishment,” Kelly said of her youngest player. “We need her out there. She has a big block and she's coming along with her hits. By the time she's a junior or senior, she'll be a star. She's that solid.”
The roster also includes junior outside hitter Trisha Lincoln, sophomore middle blocker Taylor Binney, sophomore outside hitters Britany Creedon and Christina Cruz, and sophomore defensive specialist Michelle Tokunaga.
“We're getting better every day. Hopefully we'll peak at the right time. We just need to stay focused and devoted,” Kelly said.
The coach added that Incline's junior varsity team is loaded with talent which bodes well for the Highlanders' future. “We're happy about the up-and-coming players. The Incline program is looking pretty strong.”
UP NEXT: Incline hosts Dayton on Friday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m.