Volleyball Insider: Saginaw hasn’t missed a beat

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Saginaw’s volleyball team lost nine seniors to graduation last year and all signs pointed to a rebuilding 2013 for the Rough Riders.

Coach Gina Calkins’ team, though, is far from rebuilding and off to a 16-8 start to the season.

“We went through a time where we had to evaluate our needs with personnel and some of our juniors had to play the junior varsity last season in order to get the playing time they needed,” Calkins said. “I wasn’t too concerned because we had some returning players coming back and our JV was strong last season.”

Among the graduates, four are playing college volleyball, which means replacing the offensive and defensive needs of the team were challenging at best.

Senior setter Allison Cartwright is one player who didn’t play junior varsity volleyball. In fact, she never did, having earned a spot on varsity since her freshman year.

Calkins said the transition to new hitters has been positive, although there are still some timing issues that will get better as the season wears on.

Cartwright has 76 assists this season and 67 digs to make up what Calkins called a strong nucleus.

“She’s improved so much over her career, but she’s very sharp playing the tight passes at the net and she’s able to put any ball where it can be played,” Calkins said.

Amanda Meredith and Olivia Antonmarchi have picked up the offensive slack as the 1-2 punch for Saginaw’s outside hitting game.

Meredith has 81 kills and Antonmarchi 114 for the season.

Saginaw might be most improved in the middle. Senior middle blocker Bre West was one of those who spent last season on the JV.

She’s responded at the varsity level with 69 kills, 23.5 blocks this season and along with Cartwright, was named to the all-tournament team at the Tyler ISD Invitational earlier this season.

“She’s one of those players that did everything we asked,” Calkins said. “Some players can’t commit themselves to playing that extra year of JV in order to get better, but she did it with the right attitude and it shows.”

Joy Lyon, at 6-foot-2, is another strong addition at middle blocker and junior libero Amy Vandegriff is playing her third season for the Rough Riders.

500 and counting

Kathy Goings has averaged more than 29 wins a season since taking over as volleyball coach at Aledo in 1996.

With that kind of average, it was just a matter of time before Goings notched her 500th career victory.

It came Aug. 24 in a victory over Midlothian at the Northwest Volleyball Classic.

“It’s kind of strange because it doesn’t seem like I’ve been here that long to reach that total,” Goings said. “Back before we had rally scoring, you probably had a great season when you had 25 or so wins. After we changed, you played more matches.”

Goings enters her 18th season and Aledo is already out to a 20-6 record.

“It’s not so much me, but the players I’ve been blessed to coach really,” Goings said. “I don’t know if I have 500 more still to go, but I was hoping to get to 600 by the time my youngest graduates.

Madison Goings is a freshman this season.

Still battling

Keller has had a rough go of it early on this season with a 7-17 record.

Coach Sylvia Ortiz said there are a number of factors playing into the season already that range from injuries to experience.

“We’ve had a bunch of injuries, but we’ll get everyone back as the season goes on and we should be all right,” she said. “One of the things that happened is that it’s forced some players to step up and now we’ve got some other players to rotate in.”

Ortiz said her team needs to improve on serving and making fewer unforced errors.

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