When Janet Brannon took over the Southmoore volleyball program in 2008, she knew she needed to start building with youth.
She emphasized youth leagues, as well as junior-high and club teams, to help the sport gain interest with younger players, and now the results are showing.
Southmoore is up to No. 9 in the Class 6A rankings and will be a legitimate contender for its first state tournament appearance when regionals arrive in a couple weeks.
“We have four seniors on our team now who started as seventh graders in our junior high program,” Brannon said. “They're definite leaders in our program, not just on the court, but off the court.”
Senior Amy Serowski is a four-year starter. She and Micayla Payne are team captains, while fellow seniors Carly Fuget and Briana Ruby play extensively as a defensive specialist and right-side hitter, respectively.
The SaberCats have won eight of their last 12 matches to improve to 15-12 overall, while winning the Moore city championship. The schedule has included multiple matches against teams ranked ahead of them in the 6A poll.
“We've increased the level of competition in our schedule,” Brannon said. “I told them I'm really not focused on wins and losses, but I'm concerned with how we're working our game plan in those matches.
“The tougher competition has definitely helped get them better acclimated to playing those type of opponents.”
HERITAGE HALL BATTLE-TESTED
The recent won-loss record might suggest a team that is having a rough time down the stretch of the regular season. But Heritage Hall is busy preparing itself for the tests that await in the postseason.
Though the Class 5A No. 1 Chargers have four losses in the last six matches, all of those losses have come against the Edmond trio of teams — each ranked in the top five of Class 6A.
In fact, all five of the Chargers' losses have come against those three schools, and 11 of Heritage Hall's 14 victories are against teams ranked in the top 15 of their class. The Chargers' final four matches are against top 10 teams, starting with a visit to 5A's third-ranked Deer Creek on Thursday night.
ELGIN HANGS ON IN 1-VS.-2 SHOWDOWN
The Elgin-Mount St. Mary volleyball rivalry has blossomed over the course of the year, and the teams' fourth meeting of the season Monday only added a little more spice to a potential showdown at the Class 4A state tournament.
Top-ranked Elgin evened the season series with a 3-1 win at No. 2 Mount St. Mary, in the final week of regular-season action in Class 4A.
Class 4A regionals are to be held next week, with the state tournament Oct. 11-12 at Westmoore.