Young talent brings life to Lady Brahman’s volleyball

OKEECHOBEE — After the Lady Brahman volleyball program went through a self described ‘rebuilding year’ during the 2017 season, coach Taylor Padrick thinks the addition of new talent will give Okeechobee a whole new look in 2018.

“This is a completely different year,” said Padrick. “We have five new freshman on varsity.

Okeechobee High School junior Ashley Snyder (kneeling) digs a volleyball at the Purple and White game on Aug. 16. Snyder will be one of the veterans on a new, younger volleyball team for the 2018 season. Photo by Rich Marion.

We had a class that came in from eighth grade that we knew was coming in, so it’s still somewhat of a rebuilding year in the sense a lot of the girls are just now getting to play together. But I think we’ll definitely be more successful than last season.”

The Lady Brahmans finished with an 8-13 record for their 2017 season.

Many of the new players that are joining the team this year are from both of the 2017 Yearling and Osceola Middle School volleyball teams, which performed very well last year.

The Yearling team went an undefeated 20-0. The school hung a banner in the Yearling gymnasium to recognize the team’s accomplishments.

The MVP of that team, Kirsten Kennedy is now on the Brahman varsity team.

With a talented group of young players in the program, Okeechobee volleyball looks primed to make plenty of noise in their 7A district 13 for years to come.

The Lady Brahmans held a ‘Purple and White’ game on Aug. 16 at the Okeechobee High School gymnasium, where players from both the JV and varsity compete against each other in a friendly game to kick off the season. Although it was called the ‘Purple and White’ game, the two teams actually wore purple and black.

In somewhat of an upset, the team wearing black that consisted of only freshman was victorious, taking two out of the three sets in front of a packed crowd in the OHS gymnasium.

The first official match of the new season will see Okeechobee travel to south of the lake to face Clewiston High School on Aug. 21 at 6:30 p.m.

“Clewiston, in years past, have been a team I like to open the season with,” explained Padrick. “Usually we have been able to take them, volleyball hasn’t been one of their most competitive sports. But you never know, it’s been a few years since we’ve played them so we could show up and they could be a totally different team. But I’m confident. Even if we don’t win, I know we’re going to lay it all out.”

Okeechobee High School freshman Anja Koivunea prepares to serve the ball at the Purple and White game on Aug. 16. Koivunea is part of a talented freshman class joining the volleyball program in 2018. Photo by Rich Marion.

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