Clay-Battelle volleyball team aims to net state tourney berth

BLACKSVILLE — One game can make all the difference in volleyball. It’s a lesson Lexie Foley knows well.

The Clay-Battelle senior remembers last fall vividly, as do the rest of her teammates that return this year. The Cee-Bees took third place in the WVSSAC sectional tournament — just one win from advancing to the regionals.

Now, Foley is back on the court for summer practices heading into her senior season. She is expected to be a key component in the C-B rotation this fall, and she is dialed in on preventing a similar fate as last year’s. She’ll settle for nothing less than a trip to the Charleston Civic Center for the state tournament.

“I think every team’s goal is to get to the state tournament,” she said. “Ours is no different.”

This year, Foley is using her role as a senior leader for the Cee-Bees to foster better chemistry and communication among her teammates. She wants to see her team come together and excel as a unit, which she believes will be the key to success.

“Volleyball is 100 percent a team sport, and for us to win games, we have to understand one another,” she said. “As a team, we have to know that if one player is having an off night, someone will have their back.”

Another factor at play for the Cee-Bees this summer is a head coaching change. Casey Rollins took the reigns from C-B boys’ basketball coach Josh Kisner following last season. The summer practices have been Rollins’ first opportunity to work with her new team, and she is tackling the challenge vigorously.

Rollins is excited with the potential her team has shown during practice, and has begun to implement strategies she thinks will lead to further success for C-B.

“My goals have remained steady: To enhance ball skills and touches on the ball, to improve daily in the gym, to maintain the drive to succeed in Class A volleyball, and to be in optimal physical shape to last during long sets and tournament play,” she said.

Foley called her coach’s approach “aggressive yet encouraging,” and feels that Rollins motivates her to be a better and harder-working athlete.

“When I say aggressive, I mean we’re conditioning a lot to build up our endurance, which will benefit us in the long run,” she said. “She gives us her all every practice, and I feel it’s only fair that we give 110 percent every time ourselves.”

According to senior Hailey Carreon, Rollins instilled the mind set of outworking the competition into the girls’ heads, and it’s a message that’s sticking with the team.

“She has been stressing the importance of exercising and putting in work, especially when we’re not in the gym as a team,” she said. “She tells us that we may not be the biggest team out there, but we’re going to be the ones that work the hardest and hustle the most.”

In turn, Rollins describes her team as “energetic and talented,” indicating that she expects positive things from the girls.

“I have girls who are ready to greet the upcoming season with motivation, determination, and grit,” she said.

Foley and her teammates expect they will perform well under Rollins, and she said summer workouts with Rollins have been a great experience so far.

“The atmosphere around C-B volleyball right now is extremely positive and energetic,” she said. “We’re all very excited to learn under the leadership of coach Rollins and reach our team goals. Volleyball is important to her, and she cares a lot about each player individually and ensures we’re all taken care of.”

As Rollins prepares for her first season in charge, she hopes that the teams can use the successes of last fall to grow as a unit.

“The overarching goal here is rooted in reflecting on last season’s successes and growing as a team who encompasses collective responsibility for our successes and failures alike,” she said. “We have to celebrate the successes and be able to learn from the obstacles that are unforeseen.”

For Carreon, the math all seems to add up. The pieces are all falling into place, and she thinks the writing is on the wall for a big year in Blacksville. She couldn’t me more excited for the season.

“Coming back, we’re ready for anything,” she said. “We’re really aiming high this year.”

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