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The few, the outstanding

Central High School’s 2019 junior varsity (JV) girls volleyball team has had no more than eight players — and currently has six — but this has not deterred the Lady Chargers from orchestrating an outstandingly successful season.

They entered this week with an 11-3 overall record, riding a three-match winning streak.

“We’re very excited with how things have gone so far this season,” Central Head Coach Kaitlyn Matthews said.

This is Matthews’ first season coaching the Central JV team.

“I have coached previously at the middle school for the past three years, so I have not coached at the high school level necessarily, so I didn’t necessarily know what we would be up against, but I did know that this group of girls was a really strong group of girls (that) works very well together, so I was very excited to see what they could do at the JV level,” she said.

As for how they have performed relative to her expectations, she said, “I have very high expectations for the kids that I coach, but they have done very well. They have been very impressive this year.”

The six girls that presently comprise the team are freshman outside hitter Anna Inzeo, freshman setter Alyssa Inzeo, freshman outside hitter Erika Watson, freshman outside hitter Regan Harris, freshman outside hitter Andrea Hoover and sophomore outside hitter Caroline Bayne.

In volleyball, each team must have six players on the court at all times, which means “I don’t have any subs,” Matthews said, noting that this makes her players’ success all the more impressive, “because they never get a break. I’ll call a timeout or something if I can tell they need some water, but if they have a moment or something where sometimes as a coach you’d just put somebody in, they’ve got to power through it, they’ve got to mentally get themselves through it and physically get themselves through it since it’s just the six of them.”

The coach said it has been just the six players for the past two or three weeks.

“We had played the majority of the season with seven,” Matthews said, alluding to the presence and contributions of sophomore outside hitter Ruthie Green.

With the lack of substitutes now, the question of who the leaders are on the team draws a unique answer.

“With six, they’ve all had to be very much leaders, and I tell them that all the time,” Matthews said. “We have two captains. Caroline Bayne and Andrea Hoover are our captains this year, and we do expect them to be leaders on the team. They lead the team, offensively, but all of the girls have to step up, whether it’s with serving, whether it’s just playing solid defense that day.”

A difficult reality of having such a small team is that if someone is having an off-day, it changes the whole dynamic of the squad. But even in these situations, Matthews and her players find ways to support each other.

“If someone is having an off-night or something, I’ll say, ‘Hey, the two of you pinch together a little bit, help cover some of her ground,’” Matthews said.

Central hosted Randolph-Henry High School on Tuesday and hosts Amelia County High School on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.