Weeki Wachee shows no drop off from last season

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

(Weeki Wachee)- Not many knew how good Weeki Wachee’s volleyball team was going to be after they lost four seniors from last season’s 21-9 squad.

The Hornets reached the Class 6A region final, losing to Ponte Vedra three sets to one. With the amount of underclassmen Weeki Wachee was going to rely upon, not many were expecting a repeat of the 2016 season. 

All Kelly Werkmeister’s girls have done since last season ended has been rebuilding the chemistry amongst a new crop of players and the results have replicated last year’s. Weeki Wachee upended Nature Coast for the Class 6A, District 7 championship and are making another playoff run this fall. The Hornets lost to the Sharks in their first meeting of the season, but got the better of Nature Coast in the latter two matchups. 

“It was the mindset of a lot of the girls and that was following in the footsteps of the players from last season,” Werkmeister said. 

“Not saying we’re young but we are young. Once we got over that hump, they really started building together. I think the turning point was beating Crystal River. We knew it was going to be a battle against Nature Coast. They’re a very good defensive team and this was just the third match we’ve gone five sets all season long.”

The experience that Weeki Wachee lost from last season has been replaced by a slew of younger and more variety of hitters all across the board. Werkmeister said her team in 2016 was more reliant on a couples girls, but now has several she can go to throughout a match. 

Leading the way this season is junior Brooke Sereda, who has notched 270 kills and 259 digs. Sevtia Hill (203 kills), Mariann Flaherty (159 kills), Kaylee Pizzano (117 kills) and Madison Zernick (106 kills) have helped provide balance amongst the Hornets’ hitters. Sophomore Amber Paulsen leads the team with 353 digs on the campaign. 

Weeki Wachee junior Kaylee Pizzano

“I know we lost four seniors last season but the girls that we have now and building from last season, we have a variety of hitters,” Werkmeister said about her young team.

“Brooke Sereda is one of my big outside hitters. We have a lot more players we can rely upon. I would have to say our offense is a lot quicker than it was last season.” 

The Hornets are now in the midst of another postseason run currently, with a three sets to nothing victory already against Hudson in the regional quarterfinal. Weeki Wachee will need to win more to get back to where they were in 2016, but the Hornets are certainly heading in the right direction as they trend upward in the present and beyond. Werkmeister’s team faces Fivay and then could take on either Ponte Vedra or Santa Fe in the region final. 

Weeki Wachee senior Mariann Flaherty

“We haven’t played against Fivay because of the hurricane rescheduling,” Werkmeister said. “Nature Coast was a very scrappy team and it would have been cool to have an all Hernando region semifinal.” 

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