BAKER ó None of Baker Schoolís current volleyball players were born in 1992, the last time the Gators failed to make playoffs. This year's senior class was in the first grade the last time Baker failed to win the district title.
BAKER ó None of Baker Schoolís current volleyball players were born in 1992, the last time the Gators failed to make playoffs.
This year's senior class was in the first grade the last time Baker failed to win the district title.
And the seniors were freshmen three years ago, the last time Baker didn't make it to state semifinals.
The expectations at Baker haven't changed as the team vies for an 11th consecutive district crown and a 21st straight playoff appearance.
The Gators are well aware of the streaks, and none of the players wants to be on the team that sees them come to an end.
"It's a lot of pressure," senior Savannah Risen said. "The seniors don't want to be the ones that break the ongoing tradition. The thought of that is not a good feeling."
Baker coach Tomikko Parks downplays the notion of pressure associated with the streaks.
"I don't know if it's pressure so much as they want to do it." Parks said. "The girls expect themselves to do it. They come into the season and they don't take it for granted.
"They know they have to work hard."
Parks likes her team of veteran players.
"Our experience level is good," she said. "We've got some girls that will be in different spots, but we've got five seniors coming back.
"They have worked their tails off this summer, and we feel really good about them coming up for conditioning every day. They have done a really good job of taking care of business and getting in shape as they prepare for the season."
The seniors are Risen, Alex Roy, Jordan Linzy, Miranda Whatmough and Hannah Wadsworth.
Whatmough and Linzy will move to the front row and see playing time at outside hitter along with Wadsworth and Risen. Roy returns as the starting libero.
Parks isn't sure what the team's strengths might be, but that isn't a bad thing.
"I don't know if we have really found out what our strength is going to be," she said. "We are pretty consistent all the way around. Our passing and hitting has improved.
"Right now I'd say our experience level, and they are all hitting it well (are strengths). We have five seniors, and four of them have made that trip to state twice. They know what it feels like to get down there, and they will use that experience to help them this year."
Bakerís attempt to capture the 11th straight title will come in the new District 3-1A. The Gators are joined in the district by previous district opponents Jay and Northview along with Chipley, Freeport and Holmes County.
Baker beat Chipley in region finals last year to earn a trip to the state tournament.
Parks is taking the new district in stride.
"Everybody we have in our district we have played in the past couple of years," she said. "Chipley has been a regional opponent and now they are going to be a district opponent, and with Freeport it's the same thing. We are familiar with them and we are familiar with their coaching.
"It's a new season and teams come back and they improve. It's been a long year since the beginning of last volleyball season. You just have to be able to adjust the different types of teams you will play."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletinís sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.