HOBART | Zoe Wilson came out for the Hobart volleyball team as a freshman with a basic knowledge of the game.
She figured she'd be on the junior varsity for a year or two, cut her teeth and learn the intricacies before earning a spot on the varsity.
Nope. She was almost instantly made a starting middle blocker and had to learn on the fly. Her coaches saw some potential in the 6-foot hitter.
"It was rocky," Wilson said. "It was something new, because I was never into volleyball. Starting on varsity, that was, wow."
The rough times have paid off for the Brickies, who went from the bottom of the Northwest Crossroads Conference standings to fighting at the top this season. With three juniors who have started all three seasons and a returning starter in sophomore Wilson, Hobart came in with high hopes.
Wilson was among those with the highest. Despite such little experience two seasons ago, she became a year-round volleyball player, and spent her winter and summer in her first season in club volleyball.
"She came in with a new attitude this year, one that was very confident," coach Kristi Hoese said.
"As I started to work at it, I started to see improvement," Wilson said. "That's when I started to think, 'maybe I can do this.'"
Wilson has improved her blocking, hitting, defensive reads — name it and she's better at it.
The confidence helped breed a sophomore captain on a junior-heavy team and an all-around motivator. Regardless of how many kills or blocks she has in a game, Wilson finds a way to help her team turn the tide around.
"She's a big leader on the court; she gets the girls pumped up," Hoese said. "She's very good at motivating. When we played against Lowell, she got one of our big hits that started it off. There was an over-pass and she pounded it to the 10-foot line and got the whole team going, not just by her kill, but by her excitement."
Hobart's improvement isn't a surprise to opponents who have watched the team for the past two years, Hoese said. Teams are no longer circling the Brickies as an automatic win. Sitting at 13-6 heading into Monday's game against Andrean, at this same time last year, Hobart was 6-14.
"It's like really all coming together," Wilson said. "We've put in a lot of work, and it's all paying off is really exciting."