Saturday, August 17, 2002
Hayden They can sit for now.
Gathered alongside one of two nets set up for practice Thursday afternoon, members of the Hayden volleyball team snuck in some last-minute rest before beginning their strict conditioning workout new to the 2002 season.
"Rillos has been killing us this year," senior Brittany Doolin said.
Rillos is Kipp Rillos, Hayden's head coach. In his third year, he said he is enjoying both the game of volleyball and the adjustment to coaching girls.
With five starters back, four of them seniors, there's plenty to smile about in Tiger country. The offense Rillos installed last season is taking form, and the extra work done in the offseason and in the few short weeks now before the season begins may just translate into the extra victories the Tigers are seeking this year to finish above .500.
"We went to a powerful team camp this summer and brought in coaches from Palisade," senior Allison Hall said. "We have a really good attitude and want to make this year our best year."
There's so much enthusiasm over volleyball in Hayden that practice has almost become a social gathering spot. Rillos said 14 seniors, four juniors, 11 sophomores and eight freshmen are out for the sport. Two seniors decided to come out just this year, and Doolin said the total of girls out for volleyball in her senior class is more than half of the entire senior female population at the high school.
"With 14 seniors, we all want it a lot more," Doolin said.
But higher expectations are only realized with better preparation, beginning in practice, and Rillos said the attitude change is evident.
"Our program has been growing," he said. "Our skill level has increased and the girls are eager to work harder. We have a lot of leadership, and they are real excited for their senior year and working hard. That's infectious."
If the girls hope to play at all, even the seniors, they will have to fight for the spots. Many girls on the roster have varsity experience, creating key depth at nearly every position. Doolin said it seems like three girls are lined up at each spot ready to see some action.
"We've got a lot of depth," Rillos said. "Which makes for hard, competitive practices."
Hayden plays in the same league as Soroco, and both are faced with the daunting task of not just overcoming talented teams like North Park and Grand Valley, but trying to take down three teams that moved into 2A from 3A for the next two seasons Meeker, Paonia and Rangely.
Enter Rillos' conditioning regimen.
"We've been working out harder so that hopefully we're prepared for the change in competition," Rillos said. "We don't have a lot of height so our game is going to have to be one of hustle."
What the team lacks in height, senior Adriana Svoboda said, it makes up for in team chemistry, which usually turns into increased court communication, encouragement and, subsequently, better play.
"Our strength is how our team meshes together," she said.
The girls on the team have sat down and made individual and team goals for the 2002 season. Rillos said a popular item was to obviously have fun. Another one was to try for Districts, which he believes is realistic, but he is also not one to want to place expectations on a team at such an early point in the season.
He may not have too. The players may do it themselves.
"With all our seniors and experience," Svoboda said. "We just want a winning season basically."
With that, Svoboda took off to do her laps before practice.