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Banner Banter: BCHS Focuses On JRD Title

BUCKINGHAM – Of the approximate 35 banners that ring the gymnasium at the Buckingham County High School gymnasium, almost every team sport is represented at least once, with one exception being volleyball.

To get a banner, a team must either win a regular-season district championship, or the tournament.

Given the infusion of three strong volleyball teams entering the JRD next season (Bluestone, Goochland and Nottoway), 2010 is a good chance to get something on the wall.

The Lady Knights lost two starters to graduation and another to a different fall sport, but do return first-team all-district player Sarah Frasier, and four others that had significant playing time.

“Right now, we're not where I thought we'd be coming into the season, with the one loss of our outside hitter, who decided to play another sport,” said BCHS head coach Ethan Abruzzo. “But we do have enough that we can be a contender in the district, which is down in comparison to what it's going to be next year. These girls really want a banner.”

Right now, Buckingham's focus is on finding a rotation that fits its strengths. The lack of a proven outside hitter will force the Lady Knights to attack from the middle.

“Right now, we have a disadvantage on the outside, but we hope to counter that with our middle. We want to give our opponents something that you don't see regularly.”

Abruzzo expects Frasier and Kim Warner to give them that advantage in the middle. The biggest challenge, and one that would plague the Lady Knights with or without a proven outside hitter, is getting a solid pass from the back line to the front.

“We've got to work on that pass,” said Abruzzo. “We've been sloppy with that in our scrimmages. Some of that is our JV players adjusting to the speed of the game at the varsity level. Hopefully some of that is also the level of teams we scrimmage against.

“Right now, we're working on our overall quickness. If we can improve there, it will help us get the pass down.”

The Lady Knights scrimmaged William Campbell, Altavista and Goochland in their preseason schedule.

“Hopefully they're the toughest teams we face all season.”

For the first time, Buckingham is experiencing with a libero. Taylor Hudgins will wear the opposite-colored jersey, and Abruzzo feels she will help stabilize the back line.

“I think she'll be real good for us back there,” said Abruzzo, noting that although she's a good hitter on the high school level, Hudgins plays the libero position on her travel squad. “I'm hoping she gets a lot of touches, and will be our primary passer.”

Buckingham will work with two setters for the time being. Frasier will hit when she rotates up front, and assume setting duties on the back row.

At least for now, as the team continues to adjust to the varsity level of play.

“It's going to be a trial by fire for the first month. If a player does well, then they'll earn a job for the next game, and then we'll go from there.

“Hopefully, by the time we start to play teams in the district, we'll be confident. I feel the people we have can execute our plan. We haven't gotten to that stage yet, but as we gain our confidence, I feel our goal is an attainable one.”