Lady Wolves’ returning experience inspires high hopes

Posted Monday, Jul. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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One thing coaches always like to have is senior leadership. For Beth Wills and her Timberview volleyball team, that shouldn’t be a problem this season. The Lady Wolves’ roster will include no fewer than eight seniors, seven of whom were part of the squad last year. All that returning experience has left the club with high hopes for 2013.

Timberview finished fourth in district last season and exited the playoffs in the first round, but the Lady Wolves return the core of that team, including four starters and plenty of varsity experience. That group will be leaned on this year to drive the team deeper into the playoffs.

“We’re looking to them, not just for what they can bring for us to the court physically, but we’re looking for a lot of leadership from our seniors this year,” Wills said. “We’ve got the bulk of our starters coming back. We just got back from team camp at the University of Texas and had a great camp. The kids did really well. We’ve got some kids coming in that are new to the varsity. I thought they did really well for the first time playing together.”

Among those returning to lead the team this season will be outside hitter Alyssa Hernandez, middle blocker Bryanna Lawrence, setter Keianna Hardy and libero Baylea Higgs. Haley Collins also returns and will be moving to the middle season. Fellow seniors Candace Johnson, Kristin Nwakanma and Sami Arevalo should also see time.

Losses from last year’s team left the Wolves with some needs at middle blocker and outside hitter, but Wills feels like she has some newcomers ready to fill those shoes.

Kaylin Barnes saw limited time last season and the sophomore will assume the role of strong side outside hitter, and Wills expects a lot from her as a full-time varsity contributor.

Put it all together, and Timberview has the potential to accomplish great things.

“We always have high expectations,” said Wills, who has coached the volleyball team since the school opened 10 years ago. “This is probably one of the most experienced groups we’ve had. We’re not going to be the tallest group, for sure. But I think we’ve got the talent and the capability to go further than we have in the last two or three years. I think it will come down to how we handle things mentally and who emerges as our leaders.”

Lawrence, one of the team’s senior leaders, also feels like the 2013 version of Timberview volleyball should show improvement over last season.

“I think we’ll do great,” she said. “I think we’ll do much better than last season because we all have played together.

“With our hitters, our offense is awesome,” she added. “Even though we’re not the tallest team, almost everyone on the team can jump high and we talk well with each other. So, with our verticals and our communication, that’s probably what separates us from everybody else.”

Despite all the experience coming back, Timberview will still make some schematic changes, though they might be subtle.

“Every year, everybody changes. No one ever has the same group,” Wills said. “We’re not going to change drastically. We still believe in the same things: Be aggressive but be consistent.

“Offensively, we’re not going to change a lot. We do have a few people that are going to have to play in a different position or a position that isn’t as natural for them, but already in the offseason they have handled that very well.”

If Wills has one concern heading into camp, it’s the defense.

“We’ve got to be much more tenacious,” she said. “Defense will definitely be one of our focuses as we start the season and come into two-a-days. I think that’s something that team camp showed our kids – we’ve got to pick up our defensive game. We’ve got to pursue the ball a little bit better, improve our blocking scheme and we’ve got to trust each other.”

Trust is also another theme for the Lady Wolves this summer.

“I think that’s probably the biggest thing we’re going to work on,” Wills said. “You know, if you trust your teammates to do their job and you do yours, that a huge thing. So, we’re definitely going to work on the trust factor.”

Collins feels like all the returning experience helps naturally build some of that confidence in one another.

“We have lots of seniors and I feel like our seniors help a lot,” she said. “Being a senior, the underclassmen really look to us a lot on the court for guidance. We just feel connected. All of us feel like we can trust each other because we have more experience.”

Outside of schemes, Wills feels like volleyball is actually pretty simple: The team with fewer errors has a great chance of winning more often than losing.

“In volleyball, you can’t hang on to the ball and you can’t force a change in momentum just by taking time off the clock,” she said. “Especially with rally scoring, there’s a point scored every time, so anytime you make an error, you’re giving a point to the other team. To me, volleyball is about managing not just the points you earn, but making the other team earn whatever points they end up with. Don’t just give points away. You’ve got to really manage your errors.”

To that end, Wills feels like this team can ride that road to success.

“I think [this group] is capable of that. We’re expecting a lot of them,” she said. “So far, what I’ve seen from them is that their chemistry is really good. I’m excited about the season, especially after team camp. I’m ready to get back and get to work on all those things we can improve on.”

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