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HomeSportsVolleyball Match Week- Hernando High vs. Central

Volleyball Match Week- Hernando High vs. Central

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Article and Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN

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For Central, volleyball matches against Hernando have been a challenge, but on Wednesday, September 22nd, Central got their first taste of a set win against the Lady Leopards since 2015.

Central’s Jocelyn Velez (7) and Gianna Karnow (1) both attempt to hit the ball during the match against the Lady Leopards at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Photo byAlice Mary Herden
Central’s Jocelyn Velez (7) and Gianna Karnow (1) both attempt to hit the ball during the match against the Lady Leopards at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Photo byAlice Mary Herden

Maria Gebhardt took on the role of head coach for Central’s volleyball team last season and continues this year. It has been a battle dealing with delays resulting in quarantines and injuries.

“It’s definitely been a struggle,” Gebhardt said. “Our center was quarantined for two of the games; one of the games… we had two of the captains out with knee injuries.”

Hernando has a solid net presence which poses a challenge for Central when it comes to defending and blocking at the net.

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“We are a tiny team, and I think that gives us a natural disadvantage; not having the height at the net that some of the other teams do,” Gebhardt said. “Our defense is typically strong. (Senior) Gianna Karnow is just absolutely phenomenal. She is tiny and has more energy than the rest of the team combined. She holds our defense together.”

Central’s Rebecca Walton (6) bumps the ball during the match against the Lady Leopards at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Central’s Rebecca Walton (6) bumps the ball during the match against the Lady Leopards at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

“I plan to stay and hopefully give the program the stability it needs. Volleyball has always been my life.”

There were offensive plays during the Hernando game that seemed to be unrecoverable, but the Lady Bears just so happened to retrieve and hit the ball over the net on most of those plays.

Reflecting on previous games against Lecanto, “It was not a pretty game,” Gebhardt said. “Then we played them again, and we won one set against them.” 

Those little things that the players build upon, their ability to see and recognize those encouragements can often go a long way.

“What I need them to know is that there are so many people who doubt them, but at the same time, there are so many people that believe in them and know they are capable of accomplishing so much,” Gebhardt said. 

Hernando’s Alexa Grant (3) bumps the ball during the match against the Central on their home court Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo byAlice Mary Herden
Hernando’s Alexa Grant (3) bumps the ball during the match against the Central on their home court Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo byAlice Mary Herden

Adding to that belief is how these girls hold the team together, and one main ingredient is that they do not give up on themselves. 

“They have the confidence and even with all losses, knowing that they can accomplish so much,” Gebhardt said. “They are capable, they’re talented, and they are strong women and players. That’s what gives them the drive to keep moving forward as a team and program.” 

Central travels to Crystal River on Tuesday, October 5, and goes in for round two against Hernando on their home court Thursday night, October 7, 2021.

The Lady Leopards have obtained two wins this season with a 3-1 win over Central and a 3-0 win over Springstead. Next week they have a three-game run. Hernando will travel to Citrus on Tuesday, October 5, and Nature Coast Tech will host their match with Hernando on Wednesday, October 6.

Central’s Kaidyn Steadman (11) sets the ball during the match against the Lady Leopards at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Central’s Kaidyn Steadman (11) sets the ball during the match against the Lady Leopards at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Hernando’s volleyball coach Hailey Werkmeister. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Hernando’s volleyball coach Hailey Werkmeister. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Central’s Jocelyn Velez (7) attempts to spike the ball during the match against the Lady Leopards at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo byAlice Mary Herden
Central’s Jocelyn Velez (7) attempts to spike the ball during the match against the Lady Leopards at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo byAlice Mary Herden
Central’s volleyball coach Maria Gebhardt. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Central’s volleyball coach Maria Gebhardt. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Hernando’s Brooke Hart (7) bumps the ball during the match against the Central on their home court Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Hernando’s Brooke Hart (7) bumps the ball during the match against the Central on their home court Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Hernando’s Zoey Grant (5) bumps the ball during the match against the Central on their home court at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Hernando’s Zoey Grant (5) bumps the ball during the match against the Central on their home court at Hernando High School on Wednesday, Sept 22, 2021. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Alice Mary Herden
Alice Mary Herden is an award-winning professional photographer and writer focusing on nature and wildlife. From 2008 to 2021, Alice has owned Green-Fly Media LLC, a freelance photography business. She freelanced for Hernando Sun for five years covering sports, community, and environmental reporting. Alice was nominated for Agricultural & Environmental Reporting for articles published in Hernando Sun in the Florida Press Association Weekly Newspaper Contest. She placed second for Agricultural & Environmental Reporting and was awarded first place in Portfolio Photography in 2018 and took home first place in 2019. She was awarded the Robert J. Ellison Memorial Award for Portfolio Photography in 2018. She published three online magazines, Voices to Visions, a Dust and Shadows Magazine, which featured haunted locations and interviews with paranormal celebrities. Football Magazine was the first minor league football magazine in the state of Florida based on the United Football Federation football league that featured game coverage, interviews including former NFL players and College Coaches. She also created RAW- Real Amazing Wildlife featured nature and wildlife photography. Since 2015, Alice has been a volunteer at Chinsegut Conservation Center located in Brooksville, Florida. She helps with programs as well as organizing nature photography workshops. Alice is also a co-organizer for the yearly event ‘Chinsegut Wildlife Day’ and the ‘Wild Florida’ Photography Exhibit. Alice obtained two career diplomas, Wildlife/Forestry Conservation and Freelance Writing, from Penn Foster in 2019. She completed the Florida Master Naturalist Program core module courses: Upland, Freshwater, and Coastal Systems through the adult education UF/IFAS Extension program to obtain her Master Naturalist certification in September of 2020. She completed the Land Steward and Restoration Courses to obtain her title as an Advanced Master Naturalist. In September of 2020, Alice enrolled in a course at Cornell Lab Bird Academy to obtain her certification in Ornithology: Comprehensive Bird Biology, which she completed in October 2020. In January of 2021, Alice was hired for a part-time position with FWC as an Educational Specialist and in June of 2021 hired as Sponsored Project OPS for UF/IFAS in Hernando County. She is back writing for Hernando Sun and continues to publish photography and nature writing on her blog- FloridaNature.Net. Alice is married to Donald Herden Jr and resides in Weeki Wachee, Florida, with their two dogs, Bree and Willow.
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