By Ray Hamill — They may be low in numbers, but the Fortuna Huskies are not backing down from the challenge.
With just eight players on the roster, and injuries limiting the options even further through the early season, the Huskies are battling more than just their opponents.
That, however, doesn’t mean they’re not having fun.
“They get along, they seem to like each other, and it seems like they really feed off each other’s energy,” head coach Lynsey Adams said of her players. “And they’re always encouraging each other and having fun, and that’s always a good sign.”
Senior Mckenzie Emmons, a strong all-around athlete, has been leading the way.
“She’s our captain,” Adams said of the senior standout who plays setter. “And she’s been doing a really good job for us. She’s a hard worker and she has a great attitude out there on the court.”
Emmons is one of three seniors on the roster, along with middle blocker Zoe Zerlang and outside hitter Kenzie Hall.
Zerlang has “been stepping up defensively” and is enjoying a big year, according to her coach, while Hall has been a solid contributor both offensively and defensively and brings some versatility to the squad.
And that’s something Adams is looking for from all of her players outside of the setter.
“Because of our small size, everybody else has had to step up in different ways and fill different roles,” the head coach said.
One newcomer to the team who has had an immediate impact is freshman Kylee Fennell, who is among the most versatile players on the roster.
Three juniors, Lily Shelton, Renee Metz and Kendall Stewart, have each played a big role for the team this year.
“Lily Shelton is a really hard worker, and every time she steps out on the court she’s trying to get better,” the coach said.
Stewart also brings some much-needed versatility and has adapted her game to whatever the team seems to need.
“I’m confident playing her anywhere on the court,” Adams said.
Metz plays middle blocker and has developed into a defensive specialist.
“She’s our best communicator on the court,” Adams said. “And a strong defender.”
Rounding out the squad, sophomore Hannah Uutela plays middle blocker and outside hitter, but has missed time through injury in the early season.
Adams is hoping to have Uutela back soon to give her some much-needed added depth.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of a preseason, that’s for sure,” Adams said. “We are small in numbers, but we have pretty good heart.”
The Huskies opened conference play on Thursday night, falling in three sets to Arcata and dropping to 4-8 overall.
The Fortuna girls continue league play at Eureka next Tuesday.