“I don’t really have expectations for the team this year,” said Jason Kreps, varsity volleyball coach, to the team after our first scrimmage.
When seniors leave, it’s common for the leftover team to moan and say that the missing seniors have seriously weakened the team. But that feeling was especially grievous this year with the loss of the graduating class.
Last season the team was strong, with six senior players, five of whom started regularly.
However, this year there are only four returning varsity players, and only one is a senior. The rest of our team are sophomores, seven in all.
Many seniors specialized in one position, so with them gone it’s sometimes a struggle to find replacements.
For example, the position of outside hitter remains unfilled. Last year, seniors Alison Walter and Jianna Gudebski were both outside hitters. This year, two new girls must step up and fill the void.
Outside hitters are essential for any volleyball team because for the most part, they are the ones hitting it over the net. If the pass and set are good, the outside hitter will drive the ball hard over the net, aiming for open floor, so the other team has difficulty returning it.
There is no shortage of capable outside hitters, but nobody has been clearly chosen for the job. This poses a problem seeing as how there are no specific rotation and starters chosen for the job even though we’re two games into the regular season.
Lack of experience could easily be our downfall this year. Our lack of experience is not necessarily the experience of individual players, because there are some who have played club for several years such as junior Erin Reddy and sophomore Sydney Michel. But we’re inexperienced at playing with each other.
Unlike last year’s team, we have played together for only several weeks whereas most of the starters from last year played with each other for years. We need to learn the other girls’ strengths and weaknesses and their tendencies while playing on the court.
As coaches always preach, we are only as strong as our weakest link, but our weakest link is not knowing how to work together. And this has been obvious in recent scrimmages with many unforced errors and miscommunications, mainly resulting in balls dropping with no one going for them.
But in the end these problems are only minor. With more communication by calling the ball—in or out, deep or short, and whose it is—and with more practice in passing and playing in a game-like situation (with real serves and hits coming at us) our team can flourish.