The Norman Transcript

October 2, 2012

Tigers cruise past Wolverines

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Monday night at the NHS Gym, Norman High had it easy against Lawton.

Sweeping the Wolverines 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-15), Senior Night was a smashing success for Carly Buss, Molly Pattison, Katie Willeford and Kylzey McAllister, the 12th-grade Tigers, leaders on a program in transition.

It was a fine night in a, well, call it a reasonably good season.

The victory lifted NHS to 10-20 under first-year coach Randi Lewis-Coffey with a Class 6A regional tournament Thursday at second-ranked Edmond North still to go.

Not too bad because, if wins have been scarce, they haven’t been as scarce as last season, and enthusiasm, also scarce last season, is abundant.

“My team has grown a lot over the season,” Lewis-Coffey said. “We’re a really young team, so we have our ups and downs, but they’ve really pushed through the last few weeks of the season.”

Scrolling through the Tigers’ slate, big wins have been hard to come by, yet the program has been competitive.

The Tigers have a win over Bixby, the then-No. 11 team in Class 5A. They got 20 points in the middle set against No. 3 Edmond Memorial and 18 in the final set against No. 4 Edmond Santa Fe. And they have their 10 victories.

You have to start somewhere.

“I think the biggest turnaround for this season would be the teamwork and the communication,” Lewis-Coffey said. “They hadn’t been playing as a team and they really weren’t taught how to do that, and that’s where it starts for my team.”

For the players, it may start with Lewis-Coffey, the rookie coach who’s just a few years older than the girls she put on the court.

A 2006 Noble graduate who played volleyball for the Bears before playing it at Northern Oklahoma in Tonkowa, she’s guiding a young team that looks forward to taking the court.

“There are a lot more players that want it,” Buss said.

Most of them will be back.

Monday, the seniors started and excelled, but over the season Lewis-Coffey settled on a starting lineup that includes Buss, but also Niki Milby-Darrow, a sophomore; Rachel Wesson, a junior; Caleigh Donaghe, a junior; Lydia Price, a freshman; Kyle Newell, a sophomore, and libero Jeralyn Magno, a sophomore.

“I think we have done really, really well this season,” Buss said with a smile. “We’ve already won more than we won last season and it feels really good.”

Thursday, barring an upset for the ages, the Tigers’ season will conclude. In addition to the No. 2 Huskies, Mustang and U.S. Grant will join NHS at Edmond North. But even if it’s the season’s final day, there still something to gain.

“We definitely need to make it to the second round of regionals,” Lewis-Coffey said. “I think we have a shot to do that. And just play well. If the girls fight and play their hardest, I think it will really boost our confidence.”

Buss is on the way out, but she’s looking forward to continuing helping build something that will last longer than her time at NHS.

“Coach Lewis has done a really good job,” she said. “It feels good to win … last year we weren’t winning and we got down on ourselves; it was just a bad season. I feel like we’ll progress as the years go by.”

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