By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
FIRED UP: Metro volleyball players, from left, junior Juliana Bushong, along with seniors Riley Roth and Kara Speer celebrate.
Courtesy of MCA Athletic Department
Football is the popular sport taking place at this time of the year. But there are a few other sports for high school athletic participation. One of those is volleyball.
Metro Christian is among those having success in that court this year. With no starters lost to graduation last season, the Patriots are rolling with a No. 1 ranking in the OSSAA Class 4A poll and a 27-6 record as of Sept. 14.
Last year, the Patriots finished 22-16 and made state, but were ousted in the first round by Lincoln Christian.
What has been the key to their success? Unity.
“We have a lot of players who just grew up fast,” Metro coach Beth Roe says.
Senior outside hitter Riley Roth is among the top players on the team, but she’ll tell you the contributions of each athlete is what makes the program go.
“We’re really just a good group of friends,” Roth says. “It’s not just me. It’s all of us.”
Roth leads the team averaging five kills, three digs and two aces per set.
She has earned 23 percent of her team’s points this season. Through Sept. 16, Roth had 238 kills, averaging four per set, two service aces per set, totaling 10 blocks on the season and has a 2.14 out of 3.0 passer rating.
Besides Roth, Metro’s seniors include Mary Mills, Kara Speer, Jenna Smith, Malory Jackson, Sophia Clark, Ashlyn Groves and Hannah Gray. Juniors are Kyra Denmark, Evyn Fitzgerald, Anna Richey, Juliana Bushong, Christine Coulter and Madelyn Cupp. Sophomores consist of McKenzie Delehanty, Allison Morton and Kennedy Lawrence. Freshmen are Rio Fleshman, Sara Thomas, Danielle Hoffman, Elizabeth Ramey, Abigail Fossett, Rachel Gurley, Arden Row, Taylor Burman, Abbey Swanson, Lauren Gastineau and Emily Acker.
Metro had been unbeaten until it traveled to the Sunshine State of Florida, to play in the Fall Classic in Orlando.
The Lady Patriots went 6-2 on the trip, posting wins over teams from Texas, Florida, Alabama, New York and Massachusetts. Their losses were to teams from Florida and California.
It was an experience that went beyond the game.
“We got to see some things that we never see from Oklahoma,” Roe says.
“They (the California school) had a middle blocker that we had to keep the ball away from,” she says.
“We did get compliments on our style of play and character from people from the schools in Florida,” Roe says. “We had a nice camaraderie with people in Texas. We felt like we came from the same neighborhood.”
An Aug. 18 win against Lincoln Christian (winning three sets to two) was big, Roe says.
Metro Christian got wins against top 15 foes from higher classes in the Catoosa Port City Classic on Sept. 9, defeating Shawnee (No. 6), Collinsville (No. 5), Claremore (No. 11) and Coweta (No. 7) from 5A, along with Sand Springs (No. 6) in 6A.
Could Metro Christian be hosting state volleyball championship trophy come October? That is the goal.
“That would be amazing,” Roe says, thrilled. “For a couple of years, we had been the underdog, and we’ve kind of been like, no one has taken us seriously, and now this year, we’re looking at, we’re No. 1 and we have a target on our back. I take it into perspective and keep that mindset.”