- September 15, 2016
WINDERMERE The very first game of the very first season for the Windermere High volleyball program opened against a program that, in the future, the Wolverines may have a fun and exciting rivalry with.
Windermere hosted the nearby Olympia Titans, who are currently 14-3, and after a fast start, the team’s youth and inexperience — there are no seniors on campus — began to show. The Wolverines were promptly swept by the veteran Titans.
That was back in August. More than a month later, head coach Layla West’s team is starting to find its rhythm — Windermere has won six consecutive matches and seven of its past eight to improve to 7-3. The Wolverines are 5-1 in district competition.
“It's very exciting,” West said last week after the team’s sweep of Wekiva Sept. 27. “There's still a lot that we're working on. We're working as a team and facing challenges, but I think that we're getting stronger.”
West worried early on about how long it might take for the team to gel, and whether there would be personality divides amongst a roster of brand-new teammates, but says she has been pleasantly surprised with the way the girls are getting along.
Junior Ava Czyzewski, who comes to the program from West Orange, has emerged as a team-leader and West says she has performed well as the team’s captain.
Strategically, the Wolverines — who have several talented players who do well in the club scene — are also beginning to display an identity.
“I think we’re aggressive with our attacks,” West said. “We try and mix it up.”
West is a first-year varsity coach, having come to Windermere to start the program after coaching at Bridgewater Middle School — which just so happens to be Windermere’s main feeder school.
The Bobcats have had an incredible amount of success in recent years, dominating the competition in Orange County Public Schools, and so those girls graduating into the high-school level and playing for Windermere bodes well for the upstart program.
One such example is Wolverines hitter Cassidy Chambers.
“Cassidy Chambers, who is a ninth grader, is a phenomenal hitter,” West said. “She’s a great asset on the court.”
There are some big matches remaining on the schedule for Windermere, including some against teams that will undoubtedly grow into rivals. The Wolverines are at West Orange Oct. 11 and will host Dr. Phillips Oct. 12 in their regular season finale.
Though the Warriors are currently 17-0 and a state title contender in Class 9A, West says her girls are still pretty pumped for a chance to show what they can do against a team that some of them were a part of not too long ago.
“They’re really looking forward to it,” West said. “They know the talent that West Orange has and has shown throughout the season. They know there’s going to be some challenges along with that match, but they know those girls (for West Orange), too, and they know that’s the potential they want to work up to.”