A jam to be envied

Soroco's volleyball talent creates lineup questions for coach

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Rams 2006 Varsity Girls Volleyball Schedule

Sept. 2, Grand Valley Tournament, TBA

Sept. 8, at Hayden, 6 p.m.

Sept. 14, vs. Vail Christian, 6 p.m.

Sept. 15, vs. Meeker, 6 p.m.

Sept. 16, at Plateau Valley, 5:30 p.m.

Sept. 21, vs. North Park, 6 p.m.

Sept. 22, at West Grand, 6 p.m.

Sept. 29, vs. Paonia, 6 p.m.

Sept. 30, at Vail Mountain, noon

Oct. 5, at North Park, 6 p.m.

Oct. 6, vs. Hayden, 6 p.m.

Oct. 12, at Vail Christian, 6 p.m.

Oct. 14, at Rangely, 3 p.m.

Oct. 17, vs. West Grand, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 20, at Grand Valley, 6 p.m.

— Soroco volleyball coach Betsy Photos has a problem.

After two weeks of practice, Photos has no idea what her rotation will look like, much less her starting lineup.

Her problems aren't due to a lack of talent, but rather an abundance of it.

Photos said there are so many skilled players battling for positions that she might not decide on which players will get significant minutes until after the season starts.

"We're looking really strong," said Photos, who is in her second year and second stint with Soroco after coaching there for more than 10 years in the 1980s and '90s. "There's a lot of competition for players and starting positions at the varsity level. I've never had this much competition before."

Soroco returns three starters and five seniors from a team that won only three games last year. Although Photos admitted last year was "frustrating," she said the team already is playing as well now as it did at the end of last year.

"They're scrappy and determined," she said. "They just don't want to let the ball hit the floor. They're hungry for wins."

Last year, Photos said the team was close to winning games many times but couldn't finish. This year, players said their familiarity with Photos' system and one another make this a season to look forward to.

"Last year was more like a trial run," senior Toni Lombardi said. "We're more of a family this year. There's no more fighting because we are all a lot closer."

Photos said the 2005 team couldn't capitalize on its offensive opportunities. She attributed that partly to the new system and partly to the team's relaxed mentality. This year, she set out to change the intensity level.

"Now, we want to walk away knowing we've done the best we could," senior Gina Werremeyer said. "We want to bust our butts for everyone on this team."

With the starting lineup and rotations still up in the air, Photos said practices have been more competitive.

"I couldn't ask for a harder-working, more dedicated group of girls," she said. "I've never seen it like this at Soroco."

Photos thinks her team's early record won't be indicative of how good it actually is. She hopes to get a better grasp of the lineup when the team opens up play at the Grand Valley tournament Sept. 2. Still, Photos envisions a top-two finish in the league.

"I think that we will give every school a run for their money and come out on top of a lot of those games," she said. "It will come down to our ability to play under pressure and together, because talent-wise, we have it."

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