Volleyball

Sophomore outside hitter Annie Witt (10) has burst onto the scene in her first season with the Lady Panthers varsity.

Usually, a first-year varsity player will ease their way into a lineup while learning the ropes of the faster, more intense style of play compared to the junior varsity or freshman game.

But, not Annie Witt.

Liberty Hill's second-year outside hitter has already established herself as one of the Purple-and-Gold's most productive pounders at her spot at the left side of the front line.

Heading into the Lady Panthers' home match against Stephenville on Tuesday night, Witt was ranked second on the squad with 161 kills and had played in 69 of a possible 73 sets this season, to go with 16 aces (fourth on the team), 113 digs (third) and 37 blocks (fifth).

To say the very least, Witt has had a massive impact on Liberty Hill's fortunes in helping the Lady Panthers post an overall record of 23-7, including a victory in the gold bracket at the prestigious Westwood Showcase tournament.

According to Witt, the fact she has made a home for herself on the varsity so quickly is largely due to her club volleyball experience.

“I play for Roots, which is awesome,” said Witt, of the Austin-based outfit Liberty Hill head coach Marie Bruce coaches for during the club season. “So, I get to play in big tournaments against really experienced players.”

So much so, after spending last season on the freshman team, Witt was elevated directly to the varsity, jumping right over JV in the process – and the results have been tangible, said Bruce.

“Annie has brought a lot of energy to our team,” she said. “She's really blossomed and every day I see her make improvements.”

As far as the club influence, Bruce backed up Witt's claims.

“Club volleyball is a different type of game with a different level of intensity,” she said. “Annie's also very coachable, a great teammate and really fun to be around.”

Witt said much of what it takes to be a deadly outside hitter is having the ability to read defenses and find vulnerabilities.

“It's all about knowing where the block is and finding shots,” she said. “But, you also have to know the people around you.”

Despite her experience at big events, Witt said she was still taken aback a bit when the Lady Panthers played their first home match this season after having been on the road for tournaments the first few weeks of the season.

“Playing at home was definitely a bigger stage, with all the students there and everything,” she said. “So, there was more pressure if you mess up, but you have to just gain the confidence to be able to go up and take a swing.”

Suffice to say, Witt has taken plenty of swings so far this season with most of them on the business end of a ferocious spike resulting in a kill and said once she gets on a roll, opposing defenses need to be on guard.

“I have to keep my energy high and not be timid,” said Witt. “When I do that, it allows me to get my confidence.”