A new volleyball season is set to tip off in two months and a handful of local teams have decided to get together and get an early look at where they stand.
Ross S. Sterling, Goose Creek Memorial and Barbers Hill’s programs began play Thursday at the EXCEL summer league – played at the EXCEL facility and Barbers Hill Middle School South – and all three head coaches saw plenty to build off.
The league continues every Thursday throughout June.
The highlight of the first night was Goose Creek Memorial’s Red team sweeping Barbers Hill at South while the Sterling and Goose Creek White got the rust off and showed promise.
Lady Rangers head coach Candace Southall has high expectations for her team after a promising season a year ago.
So a nice start to the summer helps with her optimism.
“Tonight was exciting to watch,” Southall said Thursday night. “The girls had fun and it showed. Being that we didn’t have an off season with the entire team due to multi-sport athletes, it was great to see them back together again.
“I thought our chemistry was good and offensive placement was also encouraging. We can improve on our blocking and adjusting our defense, but I was pretty pleased with tonight’s performance.”
Southall noted her team’s competitiveness and energy throughout both matches. The Lady Rangers beat teams from Port Neches-Groves and Splendora.
The Lady Patriots entered two teams in this field in order to give head coach Casey Veen’s girls plenty of playing time.
So far, the head coach likes what she sees despite the White team falling to Port Neches-Groves and Tarkington while the Red combined its win over Barbers Hill with a split of North Shore.
“I think the girls showed a lot of promise,” Veen said. “With both teams sporting the bare minimum amount of players, some athletes had to play out of their normal positions. I personally think that this league and team structure will help prepare them for the season, with overcoming adversity and developing deeper team chemistry.”
GCM went 15-18 a year ago and showed an effective attack from both sides against Barbers Hill while the backrow managed to keep points alive in key spots.
“It was exciting to see one team sweep Barbers Hill and the other team play a close match against PNG,” Veen said. “I think the girls haven’t missed a beat from spring offseason. They have been working hard every day, and you can tell that their biggest asset is their competitive edge.”
The Lady Eagles bounced back from the defeat against GCM Red with a victory over La Porte to wrap the first night of competition.
Head coach Kristin Goodman is tinkering with positions and giving a number of kids looks to see where her team’s strengths lie and has liked the early returns.
“Overall, I am excited about our progress through the off-season, and saw good things,” she said. “Although, we are still getting used to the new line up, people playing new positions, and stepping into new roles, and we had a couple girls missing as well. Nonetheless, there were things that we did well, but there is always room for growth.
“When we had a great pass and ran the middle, 99 percent of the time, it was a kill.”
To be an effective hitting team, one needs to learn to not only hit the good ball, but make plays from bad ones as well.
“(Their good hitting came with a great pass,” Goodman said. “We will have to work more on receiving the serve and getting it to the setters where they can make a play with the middle. We are going to have to really work on serve receive.”
Goodman still wants her team to push themselves competitively, but sees improvement from their play in a May spring league.
“I think the girls just need to take this summer league a bit more seriously, because it really is like our off-season,” Goodman said. “But they want to win and have another great season, so they will step up when it’s needed.”