Mineral Wells Index
By TONY EIERDAM
Needing to fill four starting spots and rotation depth, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams volleyball team is back on the court in preparation for the 2013 season.
The season opener will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at home against Millsap.
Lady Rams head coach Taylor Eggleston said she will use the first few weeks of practices, the two scrimmages at the end of this week and the first few pre-district games and tournaments to determine the right combinations.
The task is even more daunting considering Eggleston has to replace not only the entire starting front row from last year, but also its depth.
“My main focus has been to see what players work well together and what players don’t,” Eggleston said. “It’s nothing against anyone’s skill set or volleyball ability, but sometimes certain players seem more comfortable playing with other, and I am just trying to figure out the right combinations.
“One of the biggest parts of my job is finding the group that works best together. I am looking for in every rotation who is going to give us the best chance at being successful.
“As much as these early-in-the-year practices are for them to get the rust off and the kinks out, it also serves for me to get back into the swing of things and figure out exactly what I am looking for.
“I will use the practices, scrimmages and early-season games to evaluate the players and combinations.”
Even back in the spring during off-season workouts Eggleston said this team would be different from last year’s squad.
The 2012 Lady Rams set a school record by winning a playoff match and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
“Every year I have a different team,” she said. “The girls need to be able to embrace that as much as I am. This team is searching for its identity, and I am looking at how we are going to mesh and work together.”
Eggleston said early on that the Lady Rams need to work on their serve receive game, but added the enthusiasm and work ethic of the team has been outstanding.
“They have actually battled through it as the week progressed and improved in that area,” Eggleston said. “It took a lot of repetitions to get it done, but I want it to become close to perfection as it can. We will still work hard in this area.”
Eggleston said an early positive is the girls willingness to experiment with different combinations, and she added that this group does not like to see balls hit the floor.
“All of these girls are willing to give up their bodies to not let a ball hit the floor, and with this group if you ask them to change something they are willing to make the change,” shen said. “It is a very coachable group.”
With front-row competition “wide open” a few hitters have stood out early in workouts including returning varsity members Brittany Guill and Ashlynn Robinson. Also, De Leon transfer Ashley Valdez worked in rotation with Guill and Robinson on Tuesday during six-on-six drills.
“I am surprised with how active all of our hitters are,” Eggleston said. “I have been letting them go and they have made an impression. I have also been surprised at some of the blocks we have been getting.
“There have been more blocks this week than I had anticipated, which is a good sign.“This group of front-row players were behind a big group of seniors (last year), and now I am getting to see them get extra work and I am pleased.”
Eggleston said the scrimmages at the end of the week – at Fort Worth Western Hills on Friday and at Glen Rose on Saturday – will answer a lot of questions. But she added before she settles on a starting lineup and rotations she will need to see the team play in a few regular season matches and August tournaments.
“I will just need to see them more and set lineups and rotations that are best for the team,” she said. “I will evaluate what combinations will allow us to be successful.”