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Beaufort Academy volleyball boasts talented roster

  • Dan Hunt/Beaufort Today Beaufort Academy volleyball coach Donna Patrick walks her team through a drill at practice.

Having lost only one player from a 2016 team that reached the SCISA Class A/AA semifinals, Beaufort Academy volleyball coach Donna Patrick is feeling optimistic with a new season fast approaching.

“I think the message this year (is) let’s take what we did last year, make it better and take home the state championship,” the third-year coach said. “They’re already at a level right now that is higher than where they finished last season, in my opinion.”

The Eagles had their first official practice Thursday. There was no preseason rust because Patrick has created a culture of year-round play at Beaufort Academy.

Most of the key contributors played over the summer, whether it was travel volleyball, Patrick’s summer camp or voluntary practices.

“I can honestly say throughout the summer practices in the three years that I’ve been here, we’ve had a lot more participation throughout the summer this year,” Patrick said. “In the past where we’d have four or five people showing up to practice, now we consistently have 10 to 12.”

Patrick has plenty of reason to be optimistic based on who is returning.

Her daughter Alyssa was an all-state player last season as a sophomore. Patrick is a scrappy player who flies around and plays all over the floor. That versatility is the identity of Beaufort Academy’s team.

Emily Ann Hiers and Emma Hincher also fit that mold. Courtney Kirberger is a strong all-region candidate and Patrick’s “unspoken leader” who doesn’t necessarily have a set position. If you ask Patrick, that’s the way she likes it.

“Every coach wants that problem of too many players that can play anywhere and I’m so very fortunate to have that,” Patrick said.

All that positional fluctuation makes it important to have some players who are set in a role, and Beaufort Academy does.

After a couple years of setting, sophomore Amelia Huebel is poised to be a hitter. Huebel, who is the Eagles’ top basketball player and the soccer team’s goalie, hasn’t been playing volleyball as long, but it is her favorite sport and she keeps getting better.

“It would not surprise me to see her as an all-state volleyball player this year,” Patrick said. “She was my setter for years because Beaufort Academy’s program was so small and nobody would do it.

“But now she’s so tall and so powerful and I have other people that can set. I switched her to middle hitter last year and I mean she killed it at state.”

Another key piece returner is middle blocker Allison Suber, who led the team in blocks last year. She plays one of the most important positions and wasn’t even available during the Eagles’ state tournament run because of a family matter.

The Eagles will get their first look at how they stack up Saturday when several area schools scrimmage at Beaufort High.

“I have a stacked team, even my liberos, they just all do their part,” Patrick said. “They’re like a well-oiled machine. All you have to do is fine-tune it a bit. We’re really looking forward to this year. We’re out for some vengeance.”

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