Midseason coaching changes are never easy, no matter the level of sport. In youth sports, such a change is rather rare, but that is the current case with Fremont varsity volleyball.
Fremont Athletic Director Jason Townsend told the Silicon Valley Voice that it was a “mutual parting of ways” with long-time Head Coach Annika Janson. Taking over in the interim is JV Head Coach Michelle Wagner, so there is some continuity built in with a familiar face. That said, Wagner did acknowledge she brings a change in systems.
“The girls are so good. They have been open and honest and really open to what I bring to the table,” noted Wagner on taking over. “I’m trying to walk a line with what was here and then slowly implementing what I would do. I want to respect who they are and what they have done and what was done before me. My biggest challenge is that there is so much for them to learn, but we are already halfway through the season, so I have to pick and choose what are the top priorities in terms of what I’m going to teach them.”
Teaching new skills and systems may be a challenge, but it’s one the squad seems more than eager to take on. Despite a 3-1 set loss to Lynbrook on Tuesday, Fremont twice came back from big deficits. The Firebirds nearly won the first set after trailing 20-9. A 13-3 run pulled the team back within 23-22. In the third set, Fremont completed a comeback from down 11-2, eventually winning 28-26.
“I loved seeing those rallies, those runs really get the team going,” chimed senior captain Avery Fanslow. “Most of our servers really carried our effort in those runs. They definitely boosted our energy. They kept us in the game.”
Two key servers in particular were Emma Currie, who had an ace serve late in the first set to pull within 23-22, and McKayla Hsu, who had back-to-back unreturned serves, including an ace, to win the third set.
“She is probably one of our strongest servers on the team, she has a really nice float and it’s pretty consistent,” praised Currie on McKayla. “She really pulled through in that moment, that’s something we have started practicing recently under the new coaching regimen, is serving on game point.”
Along with impressive serves, Currie herself was one of the key outside hitters in this match for the Firebirds.
“Emma has been a shining star for the last two-and-a-half weeks,” beamed Wagner when asked about Currie. “Once Amanda [Demo] got hurt, she came in and earned her position as a starting outside and I think she’s been a silent leader for us on the court. She always gives one hundred percent. Her hustle; her dedication. Defensively she is improving, offensively she is getting more confident, she’s really stepping up.”
Fremont will look to continue stepping up as the season wears on and the years go on. Currie is only a junior, while Hsu, along with libero Zoe Shie and opposite hitter Natalie Escalera are only sophomores. There looks to be a lot of potential on the Fremont roster to get significantly stronger over the next two seasons.