Since 2016 the Damonte Ranch Football Program has been a regular in the state and national rankings, but this year they are not the only team from Damonte climbing in the rankings! According to MaxPreps, the Damonte Ranch volleyball team is ranked third in state and 243rd nationally. The girls have 18 wins and 2 losses on the season, the best start for a Damonte Ranch volleyball team since 2009.
The team is led by Lexi Applebach, captain, and according to MaxPreps, leads the team in aces. Allie Pickett and Alyssa Zurro, according to MaxPreps, are the team’s best hitters. Skylar Nicholas plays middle and leads the team in blocks. Nicholas is the last of three athletic siblings to play attend Damonte.
Skylar was preceded at Damonte by two older brothers. David was a standout basketball player and Michael a three-sport athlete: football, basketball, and baseball. Skylar has played varsity basketball, but decided to focus on volleyball her senior year. “It is really so much fun,” she told me, before adding, “I like that there isn’t an individual focus, it is a team sport.” Nicholas credits the team’s success to fantastic team chemistry and the leadership of Head Coach Nate Hallett.
Hallett’s first year was 2016 and the team went 6-16, but the Mustangs have improved each year since then. Nicholas told me that Coach Nate brings a lot of energy and fun to the team, even during practice, and that the team is playing so well this year, in part, because he has allowed them to make and learn from mistakes. Nicholas also mentioned that Coach Nate is an excellent motivator and that he is good at providing constructive criticism.
Tuesday the Mustangs will travel to Reed to take on the Raiders, before returning home for a Wednesday night match with the Bishop Manogue Miners. Nicholas told me fans should look to see how the teams adjust to each other during the first set because they play different styles. Nicholas also said that volleyball is a sport that is largely defined by runs, and those runs can be fueled by the energy of a crowd. So, it would help the team if there were a large and vocal crowd in the gym Wednesday night to cheer them on!
Damonte vs Manogue, Wednesday, September 18th, 6:00 PM, Main Gym