WEEKI WACHEE — When a program loses two players like Miranda Werkmeister and Sarah Asbury, there are obvious adjustments that must be made. Veteran coach Kelly Werkmeister is making those changes, and in the process, Weeki Wachee is going through some growing pains.
"We have a young team, but the girls are still building," Kelly Werkmeister said. "Losing Miranda and Sarah is tough, but the girls that we do have are so strong and understand the expectations of playing with us."
Last year's senior class was the group that turned around the Hornets from a team that everyone wanted to play as an easier opponent to a program that now boasts back-to-back region final appearances. Werkmeister and Asbury were not only the captains, but they set school records in kills (1,241) and assists (1,676), respectively. Fellow graduates Taylor Miller and Albrionna Grayson Simon also were key components to the team's success.
Now Weeki Wachee, which entered the week 3-0 in Class 6A, District 7 play, is looking to fill these holes with some up-and-coming standouts. While the team is still struggling a bit in non-district play, the growth is evident every time the Hornets take the court.
Volleyball has grown into a prominent sport in the community with the progression of the Hernando Elite Volleyball Club, which is run by Kelly Werkmeister. The organization has helped younger players gain experience before getting to high school, which in turn allows the Hornets to work with a more talented crop of young players every season.
"It's always a good thing to get these girls who play club ball in the offseason, whether it's with our club or another one in the area," Kelly Werkmeister said. "You have talent to work with when they come in and build from quickly instead of taking two months trying to teach them."
This season, the top hitters are juniors Seytia Hill and Brooke Sereda. With 273 kills as a sophomore, Sereda was second on the team only to Miranda Werkmeister's 317. Hill came into her own quickly and finished with 117 kills as well. This season, the duo has already combined for 157 kills through 11 matches. Hill also has 25 blocks.
"Seytia and Brooke really grew into their games during the club season," Kelly Werkmeister said. "Seytia had some raw talent last year, but with a second year of club, she's reaching her peak now."
Asbury, who is now playing for Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey, was a major strength for Weeki Wachee over the past three years. Her versatility and intelligence on the court gave the Hornets a wild card that other teams did not have. Filling her role will not be easy, but Amberlyn Werkmeister is doing a great job so far.
"Amberlyn is doing well with it," Kelly Werkmeister said. "We knew how important her role was going to be this season, so she had some private lessons over the summer. For Amberlyn to be a sophomore and take on the responsibility of being the setter is so impressive."
The youngest of three Werkmeister sisters, Amberlyn received heavy playing time on last year's region final squad as a freshman. She leads the team with 204 assists as the primary setter. She also has the team lead in aces with 29. Hill (11) is the only other player with more than 10. (All totals entering the week.)
While Weeki Wachee does not have some of the leaders that the coaches have leaned on in years past, there are multiple reasons for optimism. Not only are the current standouts armed with athleticism and experience, but the group is young. The only senior is Mariann Flaherty (45 kills), while the rest project to have at least two full years together.
"At this point, I believe we have a very strong foundation based on effort and teamwork," Kelly Werkmeister said. "We know we can compete with anyone. We've proven that in the past and will continue to do prove it."