WHITING | Whiting's offensive weapon is Kaylyn Anderson, and that's not a secret.
Where the Oilers have been hiding their No. 2 player might be. Bri Blackwell starts the game in the back row, but her favorite spot is up front, where she can take a few hits and show off her athleticism.
"I've been in this position before, when you have one really good hitter and they rotate to the back row and you think, 'What are we going to do?'" Whiting coach Kelly Greer said. "With (Blackwell) in there, we have a great option."
She can play all around the floor, starting the season with the goal to improve her digs and hits stats.
"She's very multifaceted," Greer said. "She's got a good serve, she's very consistent, she's a great outside hitter and she can put the ball away. That's what we need."
She likes to play where she's needed. She'll stare down the defense and find a way to make the hit.
"I love playing back row, but if I had to pick, I like hitting more," Blackwell said.
The middle of three children, Blackwell said the trio of girls — Amanda, Bri and Courtney — learned the sport from their mother, Laura, who coached them at St. John's.
Amanda was a freshman when she helped lead the Oilers to a sectional title, the team's only championship, in 2007.
Bri was a freshman during Amanda's senior year, and Courtney will join the team next season.
"My older sister is stronger; my little sister is a ball of energy," Bri Blackwell said. "I would say they're better than me. I'll give them the credit."
By next season, Blackwell hopes to be a better hitter, improving her arm swing and strength at the net. The Oilers expect to have a seasoned 6-foot junior varsity player on the roster when they add the third Blackwell sister to the team.
For now, they'll have to work through their nemesis, Wheeler, the only loss on their Greater South Shore Conference record and the defending sectional champions who beat Whiting in the title game last year. The sectional games begin today, and the Oilers drew the bye, playing River Forest in a semifinal Saturday morning.
"(Wheeler's) coverage is really good and they're a really good team," Blackwell said. "We have to play our best if we want to beat them. Our goals this season were conference and a sectional title. We're going to play one game at a time to get there."