There weren’t a lot of moments to cherish for the Hollister High School volleyball team in the 2018 season.
The Lady Tigers couldn’t get much traction in the second season under coach Alexis Mitchell, following up an 11-18-3 campaign in 2017 with a 9-20 finish last fall.
Hollister didn’t notch back-to-back victories until a pair of wins at its own tournament, during the season’s home stretch.
As the dawn of the 2019 season draws near, there is optimism the struggles of last season have been buried in the past.
“I think the dynamics were a little different,” Mitchell said during a recent practice session. “We just couldn’t get into a rhythm and couldn’t find what we needed to get out of the season.
“The culture and the dynamic are so different this year. They are a family, they love being around each other, and each accepts the role that they have. They are excited for each other’s successes, which is what you want to have on a team.”
If nothing else, Mitchell is hoping her team is due for some breaks.
Hollister opened the season by splitting its first four matches, then lost six of seven in a brutal stretch that included matches against powerhouse teams Blue Eye, Clever and Logan-Rogersville.
The schedule isn’t any easier this time around, but if the feeling and culture around the program translates to on-court success, Mitchell won’t object.
“I think when you get here, you’re chipping away at ‘what was,’ and now it’s about ‘what is,’ and I finally feel like we’re at the point where everyone accepts that this is what the expectation is … and these girls have bought into the culture of what I have brought into Hollister.”
Leading the way for the Lady Tigers is senior setter Alli Mutillo, who was an honorable mention pick for the All-Big 8 Conference team as a junior.
Mutillo finished with 302 assists, 108 digs, 58 kills and 16 service aces, displaying her value for the Lady Tigers throughout the season.
Hollister volleyball schedule
Sept. 3: Lockwood
Sept. 5: at Spokane
Sept. 10: at Ava
Sept. 12: at Cassville
Sept. 16: Mountain Grove
Sept. 17: at Blue Eye
Sept. 23: Clever
Sept. 26: Forsyth
Oct. 1: Logan-Rogersville
Oct. 3: at Aurora
Oct. 5: Mt. Vernon Tournament
Oct. 8: Marshfield
Oct. 10: at Reeds Spring
Oct. 15: Springfield Catholic
Oct. 17: at Mt. Vernon
Oct. 19: Hollister Invitational
Oct. 21: Monett