Finley had many energetic players. (Darin Reed photo.)
Finley had many energetic players. (Darin Reed photo.)

Finley-Blue Girls’ Volleyball Makes Dramatic Improvements

january 20, 2023

The J. Taylor Finley Middle School girls’ volleyball “blue” team wrapped up its season after dramatically improving its collective volleyball skills to the point where the squad became competitive in every match.

Finley girls' volleyball coach Carrie Postel. (Darin Reed photo.)

Finley’s two teams are designated “white” and “blue” because those are Huntington’s district colors. More than 90 girls tried out for the two teams with 20 making each respective roster.

Finley “blue” was paced by eighth grade outside hitter Dakota Respass, who led Finley is service aces and kills; eighth graders Grace Callery and Kate Gordon, who led the squad in blocks; eighth grade outside hitter Ellie Manu, who tallied team bests in digs and service aces; eighth graders Melanie Rodriquez, Sophie Hoffman and Nallely Linares who had team highs in assists.

“Dakota Respass is natural athlete who can play any position on the court,” Postel said. “Grace Callery improved tremendously this year. She became more confident in her game and was able to dominate at the net. Kate Gordon is another player that improved on her game. She became a great hitter and server at the end of the season. Ellie Manu was a leader and helped motivate the team. Melanie Rodriguez is a hustler who would run through walls to try and save a ball. Sophie Hoffman helped her team by feeding the ball to our hitters. When she gave them a good set, they were able to hit the ball. Nallely Linares was a great setter that hustled to every ball. Ava Bencivenga is a natural leader who motivates her teammates to try and do better.”

Players on the team made almost daily improvement. “The best team accomplishment during the season was during a game against Nesaquake Middle School,” Postel said. “The games were intense and it went back and forth. Even though we didn't come out as the winner, the girls played very good volleyball.”

Many of the players are expected to take the court next fall at the high school. “I really enjoyed coaching this team,” Postel said. “The girls were a great group that were there to learn and have fun. We didn’t have a winning season, but I do feel they came away with the skills to play a competitive volleyball game.”

Ten seventh grade players are eligible to return next winter as eighth graders. That has Postel excited.