Oak Mountain volleyball in midst of surprising season

Published 12:31 pm Wednesday, October 7, 2015

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

The Oak Mountain volleyball Lady Eagles have already doubled their win total from a season ago, when they finished right at .500 with a 14-14 overall record. As of Oct. 7, Oak Mountain was the No. 5 team in class 7A with a 35-10 record. The Lady Eagles have been led this season by a number of sophomores who cut their teeth on the varsity level a season ago as freshmen, including Kaitlyn Lund, Cameron Rueschenberg, Kathryn Beard and Torie Denkers as well as a steady senior presence in Savannah Francis.

“What you hope is that in each class you’re going to have three varsity impact players,” Oak Mountain coach Tien Le said. “Sometimes you get one or two, sometimes you get four or five, which is rare. There are two seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and a freshman on this team. To have a class where you have five players that are going to not only make varsity but contribute significantly is rare.”

While Oak Mountain is in the top five across the state in class 7A, the Lady Eagles currently aren’t even the top team in their own area, as Hoover is ranked as the No. 3 team in the class. The Lady Eagles and the Lady Bucs have met once in the regular season, on Sept. 24, when Hoover beat Oak Mountain in four sets, which is the only area loss the Eagles have accrued to this point. The next game on the Eagles schedule? An Oct. 8 showdown against Hoover at home.

In the midst of Oak Mountain impressive campaign to date was the Dig in the Park tournament on Oct. 2 held at Spain Park High School that saw the Lady Eagles run through the competition, winning seven matches in a row to claim the tournament title. In the tournament, Oak Mountain was only pushed to three sets during one match, a 19-25, 25-12, 17-15 win over Pelham. The talented group of sophomores in Rueschenberg, Beard, Denkers and Lund led the way for Oak Mountain along with the senior Frances.

“We expect great things each time we step on the court,” Oak Mountain coach Deanna Conner wrote in an Oct. 7 email. “We are building on each game, we can only hope that we learn and grow from each game. We all love the direction our program is taking.”

Oak Mountain will wrap up the regular season on Oct. 15 with an away game at Walker before preparing for a playoff run. While this team is still led by some young players, the reality of this young team’s talent cannot be denied, and it looks as if this Oak Mountain team is only going to get better from here.

“I think we’ve already had a successful season,” Le said. “If we can get to state this year, that would be a big, big set up for next year.”