A regional semifinal appearance and the loss of just three seniors has the Summit volleyball squad optimistic in the offseason program and summer.
Last year’s squad pushed through with a young team before being eliminated by Lucas Lovejoy. They’ll lose just the libero, a defensive specialist and a middle blocker, but they’ll return a core group of leaders with an additional year of experience.
Summit head coach Linda Alfaro said the offseason program wound down prior to the last week of classes. Last week culminated with vertical testing and the dreaded one-mile timed run.
Prior to that, the team was focused on lifting weights and breaking down volleyball skills assessments in order to pinpoint the work each player would need to do to be a part of the team which is targeting a further trek into the postseason next year.
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And the work will have to happen quickly, as the players will be the first athletes to return to campus.
The volleyball team will be back at Summit on Aug. 3 to start workouts for the next season.
“What we did poorly in matches we lost are the things that were the key points,” Alfaro said of the priorities of the spring workouts. “What hurt us is what we wanted to address. We wanted to also work on footwork and making ourselves better athletes.”
A trio of Lady Jaguars will be helping to lead the new charge in the 2015 season.
Xariah Williams, Dajah Ard and Lejla Camdzic will be the nucleus for the team when season opens play. The district schedule will begin on Aug. 25.
Williams will be starting her fourth year on the Summit varsity team and returns as the lead attacker.
As a club team player during the summer, Williams will be headed to the national tournament in New Orleans but knows the readiness for the coming year starts now.
“It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was a freshman,” Williams said. “It’s crazy to be in that position [as a senior leader] but I’ve had role models to guide me in the right way. I hope to mimic what they did.”
As part of her work during the summer and pre-season, Williams wants to improve on her defense.
“It’s not where I want it at all,” she said.
Alfaro noted quite a few members of the Lady Jags will play club team ball during the summer and they’ll attend clinics and camps that many of the clubs have to offer. Summit players will group together for a team camp, too, for those members who can attend.
Ard, who set a school record for assists last season, will be another of the eight seniors on the squad.
She said she intends to break her own assist record and has been hard at work to improve her core in and strength in order to finish strong in each game of a long schedule.
“I’ve been working on moving my feet and getting to the ball faster,” Ard said.
She also feels the team will be strong and she accepts the fact she’ll be viewed as a team leader.
“I help the younger girls work hard every day in practice,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to going farther than last year.”
For Camdzic, who was a big part of the offense and the serve-receive for Summit, the season coming up will be an opportunity to apply the experience gained.
“We’ll push to get farther than the regional semifinals,” Camdzic said. “Lesson learned. We also learned to get through adversity with so many injuries.
“I’m not sure we were ready to play in the ‘big leagues’ last year but now we know we can do it,” she said.
Camdzic knows other teams will now be gunning for Summit after being underdogs last year.
“But this year since we had such a presence and with so many returning players, we may be a team they want to watch out for. I’m excited. We have higher goals and expectations.”