HAVERHILL — Any preseason scouting reports on the Haverhill girls volleyball team have likely been disposed of for awhile now.
Sophomore middle hitter Abigail Sonuga has made sure of that.
Sonuga wasn’t even on the radar screen last year when she was a freshman playing on the JV “B” team. Her skills were minimal and she had limited experience.
In middle school, the 5-foot-9 Sonuga had been cut from the seventh grade team and, while she played some in the eighth grade, it was hardly substantial.
So who would have expected that she would start for the Hillies this year, lead the team in kills and blocks, by nearly twice the number as anyone else, and be second on the team in service aces?
“I’ve never had anyone go from JV B one year to varsity and starting the next year,” said 20-year head coach Bill Kaste. “It’s just because she worked so hard at it.”
Indeed, that is pretty much the only explanation for Sonuga’s meteoric rise, the one she points to and a major reason why the Hillies are enjoying a fine 6-2 season and are unbeaten in MVC Division 2 action.
“It’s just because I played a lot in the offseason, went to camps and really got into it,” said Sonuga, who is of Nigerian descent. “I liked playing last year and I knew if I practiced a lot, I’d get better.”
Having some natural jumping ability certainly helps, but it was the practice and determination that has made the difference for Sonuga.
“My goal was to make varsity and start because I knew there was an open spot,” said Sonuga, an excellent student who is in all honors classes.
Speaking of academics, Kaste says that Sonuga’s rapid development on the volleyball court is “kind of like she skipped a grade” and something that others should emulate.