Oak Creek Expectations are hard to assess when a team already thinks it is behind.
Between full-time jobs and preparations leading up to the Routt County Fair, the Soroco volleyball team has been unable to put everyone on the floor for early season practice during the past several weeks.
"In order to see what you are going to have, you have to see it," Rams coach Valerie Remick said.
Illnesses and injuries have hampered the Rams further, but Soroco is not going to make excuses for its late start to the season judging by the enthusiasm levels from those able to practice so far.
Senior Coty Bruggink practiced her jump serve over and over, searching for consistency so her coach will allow her to use it in games.
Senior Kalvert Shiner, despite a back injury sustained after being bucked off her horse, defied Remick's pleas that she walk the timed mile to protect her back because she wanted to run with her teammates.
Freshman Glenda Long isn't interested in waiting her turn to lead.
During Wednesday's timed mile, she sprinted past senior Nicole Martin in the homestretch to cross the line first.
"We were all like that as freshmen," Shiner said of the seniors.
Seniors Kimberlie Williamson and Karli Babcock are the only returning starters, and Remick said the Rams will have to get leadership from the two early and find players to fill other voids.
"We don't have big hitters," Remick said. "Our big hitters will need to be our middle hitters right now. But Kalvert is still our setter. She's still our quarterback. She got put in a lot of tough games last year and handled the pressure well."
Remick said she might have to turn to a group of talented freshmen to step up and play varsity right away. Early last week was the first time the group was introduced to Soroco's offense, a 5-1 scheme much more complex than the traditional 6-2 attack used in middle school.
There was some confusion and many questions, and Remick doesn't want to throw inexperienced players out in the first tournament of the year in Grand Valley on Sept. 4, but once the younger players understand the offense, they may be put on the floor.
"Whatever is best for the team," Shiner said.
Remick said she's heard that saying a lot during the past couple of weeks. In a league that boasts high levels of talent, there isn't a team that Soroco can't beat, Remick said.
North Park and Meeker are early favorites for the league title, but the Rams have the potential to be up there, as well, she said.