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Rebuilding on the court

The Cumberland County High School varsity girls volleyball team is looking to rebuild and add to its history of success, and it is doing so with quite a few new faces, including a new head coach.

Takia Williams takes over coaching duties this year, and she brings 6-7 years of playing experience.

She played in high school for Cumberland rival Amelia County High School, logged a year of travel ball at Richmond Volleyball Association and she also competed at Alderson Broaddus University.

After evaluating the talent on the Lady Dukes’ roster this year, Williams said, “Overall, I’d say we have a nice, strong team and a nice, strong foundation that is something that we can build off of this year.”

Cumberland finished the 2016 season with a record of 14-6. The Lady Dukes placed second in the James River District by going 12-4 in the regular season, they finished as runners-up in the Conference 42 tournament and they advanced as far as the Region 1A East quarterfinals in the postseason.

Williams said that the team will be rebuilding this year.

“We lost a heck of a lot of seniors last year — one in particular, Bria (Anderson),” she said. “So, with us rebuilding, we do have a lot of height coming back. We do have some inexperienced young ladies who quickly grasped the game immediately. As far as the expectations for this year, the main thing is to come out hard and hustle.”

Communication on the court is one of Williams’ points of emphasis, and she has also added two days of weight-room work to the weekly training regimen.

Among the expected leaders on the team are junior outside hitter Nadia Elasha and sophomore setters Nikki Hurt and Jordan Cooke.

Hurt, who plays travel volleyball, is interested in playing collegiate volleyball, as are Hurt and junior middle blocker Autumn Holman.

Though Cumberland lacks experience, Williams does not see it as a cause for low expectations.

“I feel like we can definitely hit a run at districts — that’s the main thing — and possibly a run at region as well,” she said.

The Lady Dukes open the 2017 season Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Prince Edward County High School.