Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Mariner Volleyball Serves Up a Whole Lot of Heart

Born and raised in Silver Bay, Mariner High School Girls Volleyball Coach Tracy Blood has deep roots in the area. Her family can be traced back to some of the first settlers in Beaver Bay, and her great-great-grandpar­ents’ farmstead stood where the golf course lays now. Their gravesite is located on the 4th hole. Though her family had to move after the mine shut down, she was able to return as a junior and finish high school in Silver Bay where she played on the volleyball team.

“I like to share my passion for the sport of volleyball with kids,” Coach Blood told me. She coached Silver Bay Girls Volleyball six years ago, then a change in jobs put a pause on that role. She was able to resume her position as head coach this year. She has previously also assisted in developing programs in volleyball, girls’ basketball, and boys’ bas­ketball in Isle, Minnesota, where she and her family lived for 19 years before returning to Silver Bay.

It’s not just the passion for the sport that Coach Blood imparts to her team. She en­joys being a leader who helps to mentor and develop young athletes. “It’s not always about the sport itself. It’s about life lessons and learning, as well.”

Resiliency may be one of those lessons that this season’s team needed to learn quick­ly. When Katie Carpenter, a senior who has played on the varsity squad since her fresh­man year, suffered a concussion at the Mar­shall Tournament on September 9th, the team had to pivot. “It affected us in a way where we had to do a lot of rearranging to compen­sate for that leading role on the floor.” (Ka­tie came back to the court, full-strength, two weeks later.)

Katie also had a major change in her role this year. When the senior setter moved out of town, she filled the position where she’s done very well. Coach Blood told me Katie plans on going to a four-year college and studying nuclear medicine technology and is hoping to play softball.

With five seniors, four of whom are cap­tains graduating this year, the Mariners have a young team, but the freshman and sopho­more class have pretty solid numbers. “There is a good future coming up with those ath­letes,” Coach Blood said of the younger classes. “It’s exciting to have young girls who are hungry for the sport, have a passion for the sport, and they are like sponges that soak up everything that you give them. They really want to do well and improve and excel in their role.”

One of the younger players, sophomore Madison Ollman, has played on the varsity squad since she was in 7th grade. “She is one of my players who doesn’t come off of the floor,” Coach Blood said. Madison also plays softball and basketball. “She’s been a strong back-row player for us and serves well all the way around.”

Freshman Evelyn Viney has also added a lot of value to the back row. “Our strength is definitely our passing. It’s exciting for me because it’s probably the first year I’ve coached where we’ve had a strong back row, and we’re not needing to worry so much about our passing. Our digs are pretty strong with Maddie and Evelyn in the back row.”

The Mariners’ last regular season volley­ball game was against South Ridge, where they lost in three. “Typically, when we play stronger schools, I feel like that’s where we really step it up, but South Ridge had a lot of firepower and a lot of hitting power behind them. They have a good strong upper class of girls,” Coach Blood said. “They’re a pretty tough opponent.”

The loss ended up seeding the Mariners #5 in the Section 7A subsection. They will have played the #4 seeded Carlton-Wrenshall team on their home court on October 25th. Flood­wood is the #1 seeded team going into the playoffs.

The Mariners finished their regular season 6-7 in the section and 6-16 overall.

Best of luck to the Silver Bay Mariner Girls Volleyball team! Keep playing your heart out!

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