Brittany Barnett, Tioga’s all-state junior setter, is aware of the high expectations fans have for the 2016 Lady Bulldogs, but she says her class has what it takes to repeat last year’s run in the state volleyball playoffs.
Last year’s sophomores built a strong bond as the Lady Bulldogs won the district championship and then advanced to the finals of the regional tournament. That gives them confidence heading into the 2016 season, Barnett said.
“We’ve always been together and we’ve always been the leaders, so we can look to each other,” Barnett said.
As for the team as a whole, Barnett sees the hard work and effort necessary for success. The Lady Bulldogs volleyball team started summer camp Monday and concluded their work Thursday.
“Everyone’s hustling and working hard. We’ve lost seniors from last year so some of the freshman have to step up and they’re doing their best to fulfill that,” Barnett said.
The Lady Bulldogs made the playoffs for the first time last year and played their way into the regional tournament, falling one win short of making the state tournament. Being so close to making state taught Barnett a valuable lesson.
“It taught us that it’s not going to be easy; we have to work harder in the preseason than we did last year,” Barnett said.
Although Tioga is building a volleyball tradition, Barnett said she uses the traditions of other schools as a measuring stick.
“It’s hard to build tradition because we just have to look at other schools and see what they do and if we don’t like it, we have to look at another school and see what they do and then combine everything,” Barnett said.
Nerves didn’t play a factor in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Barnett said, but the bright lights of the regional playoffs and the droves of hometown fans that came out in support made her anxious.
“When we had a bunch of people in the crowd, it was a lot different than just playing a district game,” she said. “It was a good different. The last regional final game made me nervous. As a sophomore, it was new to me.”
Barnett won’t be satisfied with winning district or playing in the regional finals in 2016. She’s determined to make it to state.
“Getting to the regionals and then making it to the state finals is my expectation this year,” she said.