The core to every good team is its leadership and the Zephyrhills volleyball program has four good ones in seniors Jade Pickett, Mikalah Geiger, Tori Perez and Bryanna Omalley.
The four seniors who have help guide Zephyrhills to one of its best seasons in more than a decade including a fourth seed position in the upcoming Class 5A District 6 tournament were honored Tuesday night before their matchup with rival Pasco.
The Senior Night Festivities featured the four leaders coming onto the court with their families while their accolades were announced to the large crowd in the “Dog House.”
“They are truly the start of what Zephyrhills can become,” second-year coach Emily Frazer said. “They help to create a culture that is thriving, passionate and determined to make a difference. It wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have such great senior leadership. They are very special.
“As a coach, you can’t wait for a team to finally feel like it’s yours. These kids just have my heart. I love them. They are just great.”
Making an immediate impact on the program in just her first season was Pickett, who was convinced by Frazer to play. She blossomed into a force at the net providing huge blocks.
“It’s very inspirational playing with these other seniors,” Pickett said. “I know they have a lot of experience and I don’t, so when I get hard on myself, they boost me up.
On the end of the spectrum is Mikahla Geiger who has played on the varsity squad for three seasons and a year on the JV squad as a freshman.
“It means a lot to be a Bulldog,” Geiger said. “I love coming on the court and playing volleyball here. Everybody on the court makes you feel like a family.”
Success hasn’t come easy for the Bulldogs. The journey is memorable.
“What sticks out to me is the bumpy road that we’ve been through,” Omalley said. “We push ourselves everyday to be better.”
The injury bug cut Perez’ season short, but she won’t stop supporting her teammates.
“It’s been so inspiring. It has been hard since I was injured but it is great to support them and see them grow every year,” Perez said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Once the ceremonies ended, the Bulldogs and Pirates battled it out on the court for East Pasco bragging rights and the Pirates will hold them for now after taking a 3-1 victory.
The opening match set the tone that Nine-Mile War on the court was on. Pasco held on to take an extended 31-29 win in the opener. The Pirate claimed game two 25-16, but the Bulldogs took the third 25-15 to make it 2-1. Pasco claimed the final game 25-7.
The Bulldogs open up district play Monday at home facing fifth-seed Davenport. If Zephyrhills and Pasco win their first round matches, they will face each other Tuesday in the district tournament.