Hoopa Valley

Core group of experienced players will be key for the Warriors

File photo – Last year’s Warriors team was crowned co-champs of the Little 4 along with St. Bernard’s.

By Ray Hamill — With league play set to begin next week, the Hoopa Warriors are getting in some much-needed game time on the volleyball courts this week.

The Hoopa girls got the season officially under way at Arcata on Tuesday night, falling to the defending Big 5 champion Tigers in straight sets, 25-11, 25-17, 25-11.

It was a tough opening matchup for the Warriors, but one that head coach Amber McCovey-Billings feels will help get them going as they look to defend the Little 4 title they shared with St. Bernard’s a year ago.

“Obviously Arcata is a great team in volleyball, so it was a great learning experience for us early in the season,” the coach said.

Senior Tatianna Colegrove had a big night in the opener and looks set to play a key leadership role for her teammates this season.

Likewise with fellow senior Nae-rew Martin, the team’s starting setter, who “was a standout all over the court,” at Arcata, according to her coach.

Colegrove and Martin are co-captains on this year’s team.

They are part of a core group of experienced third-year varsity players that are expected to lead the way for the Warriors, a group that also includes including Diamond and Jewely Bibancos and Nalani Colegrove.

“I will rely heavily on some of my third-year players,” said McCovey-Billings, who added “we’re still working out some kinks.”

The team will also receive a boost from the return of a few players who haven’t played in a couple of years.

That group includes junior Tashee Tracy, who has has impressed the coach in preseason practice.

Likewise with Aati Tripp and Vanessa King, neither of whom played last season and both of whom are expected to play key roles on their return.

Junior Tahlia Booth is also expected to see a lot of playing time, as are Renee Doolittle and Dawna Lee Rangel.

The Warriors will look for their first win when they travel to play Hayfork on Thursday.

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