Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — On a senior-laden team last year, Carli Knight emerged as a star in the SOC.
Knight, a sophomore at the time, led Wavely with 372 kills — 209 more than her closest peer — alongside 29 aces and a team-high 278 digs. Her performance led the Tigers to a 19-5 record alongside a 12-2 mark inside SOC II play.
After that finish, Waverly graduated seven seniors who all contributed in some type of way. Undoubtedly, Knight’s teammates will now look to her as their leader this fall.
Before Waverly starts its season at Washington on Aug. 19, we caught up with Knight to ask her about an added sense of responsibility, Waverly’s arch nemesis, and much more.
Question: After last year’s seniors graduated, you’ll be expected to step into a leadership role this fall. How do you plan on taking that responsibility on?
Knight: I plan on keeping the team together and keeping the focus level high. I also plan on pushing everyone to do their best, just like the seniors did for me last year.
Q: What are your overall expectations this season, individually and team wise?
CK: I expect me to be someone everyone can count on when it’s crucial and never give up, no matter what. That’s even if we’re down. I also want to improve my volleyball IQ and be able to talk to the girls every play. As a team, I’m seeing big things coming and I just hope we will stay together as one and keep connecting with each other like we are now. I hope we just improve before the season comes. I’m very excited for this season because we are very strong this year. I can’t wait to see how well we do on the net this year.
Q: What do you feel like you’re best at on the court?
CK: Being able to see the floor, talking to everyone and putting the ball where no one is.
Q: You’ve told me that volleyball is your favorite sport. When did your love for the game start and what do you like so much about it?
CK: My love for the game started my eighth grade year and I think what makes me love the game so much is the thrill of jumping and just hitting the ball as hard as I can. I love being able to be on my feet, moving in excitement and watching the ball. I love being able to be in a game that I just love playing.
Q: You have some talented teammates to say the least. How confident are you in them to get the job done?
CK: This year, I’m very confident when we step on the floor because we are stronger than we’ve ever been. We just need to work on our defense some more, considering we had to have a whole new group of players come up that haven’t experienced the varsity level yet. So far, everyone has been doing well, moving as one unit and getting the job done.
Q: Wheelersburg won the SOC II title last season. You have the chance to dethrone the Pirates this year. What’s it going to take to make that happen?
CK: We just can’t let them get in our heads, because they aren’t much different from us. We have a very good matchup with them this year in the front row and we added an important hitter to our team in Kelli Stewart. She’s a freshman, but she is dominant all around. Kelli will make a big difference in that game. As long as we focus on our defense and passing, I think we have a pretty good chance at the SOC title.