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New coach, bigger accomplishments

Milestones are evident when looking back on the Halifax County High School varsity volleyball season — a second-place finish (6-2) in the regular season Western Valley District standings, including a sweep of district opponent Franklin County; and a second straight appearance in the Northwest Region Tournament.

First-year Comets’ Head Coach Tiffaney White said this past season had its ups and downs, and she admitted it was a learning experience for both she and the players.

“I did not take the position lightly by any means,” said White.

 “I  heard that the team was a solid team from last year.  I did not get to see any games the previous year, so I did not know their talent and skill level.

“I knew that I was a ‘rookie’ coach, and I did not want to hinder the team in any way.”

“I was pleasantly surprised by the talent level of the team,” she said.

“My first real look at the team as a whole was in tryouts,” she explained.

“I was so surprised at the skill level of the girls, and  quite frankly, I began to get a little intimidated by their skill level.

“I wanted to make sure that I could contribute to the team, and  I did a little research on coaching and I spoke with my former high school and college coaches for advice.

“I got some really good advice as far as how to handle the talent on the team.”

An experienced team led by six seniors made her job easier, White noted.

“I have to give credit to the girls,” she said.  “They were so seasoned that as a new coach I could step in and feel secure that the team could compete at a high level.

“I was thoroughly impressed with the maturity of the team.”

The Comets worked through injury issues at the start of the season, and developed the team chemistry essential to a winning formula, White explained.

“The girls were never exhausted in their games, and they were always ready to go five games if the need arose,” White pointed out.

“I was really impressed with the effort that the team gave to get ready for the season.  Often times the girls would run extra on their own because they really wanted a successful season.”

Halifax County competed well with a strong Person High School team early in the season, a performance that gave the Comets a confidence boost despite losses at home and in Roxboro, according to White.

Halifax County’s 6-2 record in the Western Valley District was its best mark the past decade or longer, the two wins against Franklin County being the signature victories.

The Comets’ first win against Franklin County set the tone for the rest of the season and playoffs.

“This match was very important to us,” recalled White.  “In practice we focused on communication on the court, serving, and court coverage.

“These issues had plagued us throughout the season.  The team beat Franklin in three straight and county really turned out season around.

“The girls really became a team on the court against Franklin County.”

Despite the disappointment of losing to Franklin County in the first round of the district tournament, the Comets rallied for a sweep of GW to advance to their second straight Northwest Region Tournament.

The Comets competed and stayed close in each game but fell 3-0 to Freedom High School in South Riding to end its season with a 15-7 record. 

“I was so proud to see that the girls finally realized that they could compete at any level in high school volleyball.” said White.

“Though we suffered a loss in the first round,  it was a definite plus for next year’s team.

“I was so proud of this years team.  From the maturity level to the commitment level I could not have asked for a better first team to coach.  We had a great season and we managed to have a good time and laugh and smile while winning.”

White recognized the leadership and commitment from six senior members of the Comets’ varsity volleyball team in making the season a success.

 “Jordan Miller was by far the best outside hitter in the conference,” noted White.

“She had such power in her hits that she surprised a lot of her opponents.  Most of the teams we faced keyed in on her and had to adjust to her power and ability.  She was the best all around player on the court, really led the team and was an excellent captain.”

“Meg Bane was by far the best athlete on the team,” White said.

“She served as primary setter, and she really ran the court.  She was so mature in her approach to the team, a true captain and was a great asset to the team.  Her athletic ability made her stand out in the conference.” 

“Kendall Lloyd was a great outside hitter,” White pointed out.

“She really had some great outside hits and some game- winning plays.  Kendall really matured as a player and as a young lady on this team.  She also led the team in service points and service aces and was a true asset to the team.”

“Kelsy Williams was by far the most improved player on the team,” White explained.  “She started out with some personal issues that seemed to hinder her on the court, but she turned some of those issues into inspiration and became one of the best hitters in the conference.  She also became one of the best blockers on the team.  Her overall game improved 100 percent through her own efforts, and also was a real asset to the team.”

“Autumn McFadden stepped into the role as libero,” said White.

“She was hesitant at first but realized that she wanted to do what was necessary to help the team.  A true team player, she came into the game to take Whitney White off of the back row.  She was by far the best back row player in the conference and gave a solid effort in every game.”

“Cori Campbell had a serious injury that limited her mobility from the beginning of the season,” White explained.

“Despite the injury, she continued to give 100 percent to the team and came off the bench to give a solid effort on the back row.  She had by far the best serve in the conference and she was a true asset to the team.”