During a break between sets Saturday, first-year Norman High coach Taylor Brown was busy on the bench looking through notebooks, unable to immediately address her team.
She told her players to talk about the three things they did well and three improvements they wanted to make in the next set, before she came over.
Senior Addison Masters walked to the huddle, looked around for a second and then realized she was supposed to be speaking.
“It’s definitely been a big step, because I’ve never been in that leadership position,” Masters said. “I want to fill that role and help the girls as much as possible. I want to see us succeed as a team.”
NHS no longer has the veteran group, led by middle blockers Emma Cyrus and Ryan Emmert, that guided it to the upper-echelon of Class 6A. The last two seasons, the Tigers went 45-18, including a state tournament berth in 2015. Most of the starting lineup has departed, leaving Masters and senior Esme Henson to lead a group that’s inexperienced yet talented.
“You see the athleticism,” Brown said. “I’m excited for what’s to come, because we get better everyday. I see it in these girls, when they start to pick things up. I’m just really excited for the future of this program.”
NHS showed some of that potential Saturday, taking third in its own tournament.
After beating Mustang, Yukon and Bixby in pool play Friday, the Tigers began Saturday with a 3-1 loss in the semifinals to defending Class 5A state champion Mount St. Mary’s (25-16, 26-24, 26-28, 25-13). The first set of the third-place game against Yukon, a 25-17 loss, made it look like the day was only going to get worse.
“I think that loss was still in their heads, hanging over them a little bit,” Brown said. “It was a tough loss, very mentally draining.”
Then, the Tigers turned it around. They won a tight second…