HOLLYWOOD — The final scores might not matter as much as the learning experiences this season for a very young Ahfachkee School volleyball team.

A majority of the squad is comprised of middle school students, yet it is a high school varsity team, one that faces high school opponents like the Lady Warriors did Sept. 20 against Sheridan Hills Christian in Hollywood.

Ahfachkee School’s Jaylee Jimmie lines up a serve during the Lady Warrior’s match against Sheridan Hills Christian School on Sept. 20 in Hollywood. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

Nine of the players are in grades six, seven or eight; four are sophomores and Destiny Cypress is the only senior. Only two players – Jaylee Jimmie and Lania Bert – played on last year’s team. Most of the players are new to volleyball, which is why coaching will be crucial this season.

“We’ve got like a rookie team. A lot of them are first-time players,” said head coach Randy Hernandez, who was an assistant last season.

Ahfachkee’s game plan is to teach and form a solid core of young players who can grow with the program as they move from middle school to high school.

“We’re building from middle school. Our main focus is to build those kids from the middle school so that once they get to high school they’re good at volleyball,” Hernandez said. “We’re practicing the basics.”

Tahnia Billie blasts the ball over the net during Ahfachkee’s pregame warm-up drills. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

Although it’s likely to take time and patience for results to be seen on the scoreboard, there are already plenty of encouraging signs. For example, turnout was excellent with 14 players coming out for the team. A year ago, there were only eight players.

Hernandez likes the numbers and he’s thrilled about their enthusiasm.

“A lot of them have never played volleyball. The good thing is that they are motivated to do it every day at practice. They always go to practices. That’s a good start,” he said.

Ahfachkee didn’t get off to a good start against Sheridan Hills, which easily won the first two games as Ahfachkee mustered just four points, but the Lady Warriors found a bit of a spark in the third game.

They actually led 3-2 early and served much better before falling, 25-7.

“We played better toward the end,” Hernandez said. “That’s progress.”

It will be a brief season. The team has just five matches scheduled and only one match at home, which was scheduled for Sept. 30.

Athena Bert returns a serve during the match against Sheridan Hills Christian while teammate Ina Robbins looks on. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

2019 Ahfachkee volleyball team
Coach: Randy Hernandez
Asst. coach: Dr. Chin-Tang Liu
3 Jaylee Jimmie
5 Tommie Stockton
6 Barbara Jimmie
7 Ina Robbins
8 Edie Robbins
9 Tahnia Billie
13 Lania Bert
15 Lucee Cypress
16 Taina Billie
17 Athena Bert
18 Laylah Billie
20 Nettie Smith
21 Destiny Cypress
23 Marina Garcia

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