Volleyball players out in record numbers

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— Sometimes too much of one thing isn't great.

Make no mistake, coach Meg Firestone isn't complaining about the high number of girls out for eighth-grade volleyball this past fall. It's just that it's difficult for 62 girls the combined number that went out for seventh- and eighth-grade volleyball to share one gym.

"They improved a lot over the course of the year," Firestone said. "It's just hard because we have so many girls. There were 26 eighth-graders out, and we practiced with the seventh grade that had 36 girls."

It's easy to see why so many are interested in playing volleyball by looking at the success of the high school program. For those who stick with it from middle school on, they are likely to be rewarded.

In fact, Firestone said the eighth-graders went and watched the freshmen play to get a little taste of what can be expected from them at the high school level. Firestone said she was pleased to see the progress the freshmen had made in just one year.

It encourages those who are younger and encourages those who may not have played on the A team this fall that there is room for anyone willing to work hard, she said.

"Our philosophy is to have fun and be competitive but let everyone play," Firestone said. On Saturdays, the A, B and C teams all got to play, but the midweek games didn't allow for that, so different teams were rotated.

"We started out with as much ball time as we could," Firestone said. "We made sure they touched the ball as much as they could in two hours of practice. As soon as we got the fundamentals down, then we could teach them the game."

Firestone said, as expected, the first weeks were rough, but by the end of the year, her team switched from a 4-2 offense to a 5-1 offense, using one setter and more complicated rotations.

"At the beginning it was pretty much just getting it over the net," Firestone said. "By the end of the season, we went to a 5-1, which was fun because they do a lot more strategy in high school. They were doing bump, set, spike by the end of the year."

To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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