by Clellie Allen
WAKE FOREST — For volleyball coach Jenna Hinton, coaching young Wake Forest High players isn’t just about the volleyball, it’s also about passing forward the things that made a significant impact on her life when she was a Wake Forest-Rolesville volleyball player.
“I was given a great opportunity to play sports here at Wake Forest Rolesville High School, and it changed my life,” Hinton said. “I went from here to being able to play in college and get an education in college. And everyone was so helpful to me toward those goals.
“I’m here to coach these kids right now, just like when I was in high school at this school, on this team. These are smart girls, good students, and the future holds a lot for them. And you want them to have a good experience,” she continued.
Although the Cougars have struggled a little to have the scoreboard reflect their hard work, Hinton, who also coaches club ball, works to keep her players focused on the positive. After all, the Cap-8 is one of the most solid conferences for volleyball in the state.
“It’s a tough conference. Out of the conference, we’re rock stars. And don’t forget three years ago we finished in the top eight,” Hinton said.
The strength of the Cap-8 is partly due to the nearly exponential growth of the sport, especially in club play.
“Club volleyball is huge,” Hinton said. “It’s like women’s soccer in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
“But I don’t want them to feel badly about a lack of success. They work hard and play well.”
With 10 juniors on the team, Hinton is looking to her seniors to provide leadership.
“I think seniors always play a really big role and we have two really strong seniors,” Hinton said. “Scottlin Davis plays with a lot of fire and energy. And, Sam Goodwin is probably the nicest human being you’ll ever meet — a great volleyball player and the best teammate ever. Everyone would agree with that statement,” Hinton said.
Hinton also sees growth in her returning players from last year. “Passing is so much better — our serve-receive is like night and day. That is a huge plus.
“We have some kids doing a really good job on the outside hitter spot — Kylie Grandy and Natalie Lafella. They’re going a really good job on the outside.”
Hinton also mentioned Devon Wooward and Rachel Walker as players to keep an eye on.
While volleyball is becoming a lot like basketball with specialized positions, said Hinton, she is making sure all her players know each position.
“Our team motto this year is, everyone is a volleyball player. We work on everything. You need to know how to set, how to hit, how to do it all.
When you’re a smaller team, you end up being out of system more often. So, maybe the setter dug the ball (off the serve), now someone else has to set it.
“You never know when you’ll have to step in and attack. You can attack off the back row. Or if the ball is in a weird location, you may have to set when you’re not a setter,” she explained.