By TONY EIERDAM
It has been a trying non-district season so far for Mineral Wells Lady Rams head volleyball coach Taylor Eggleston.
Coming into the 2013 season the coach had the unenviable task of replacing an entire starting front row while also looking for a starting defensive specialist on the back row.
During August practices, matches and tournaments Eggleston has tried several combinations on the front row while also juggling her rotations in hopes of finding “the right combinations” before District 6-3A play begins Sept. 27 against defending district champion Kennedale.
The Lady Rams, who play at the Peaster tournament today beginning with a 1:15 match against Godley, are 6-13 after 29 matches.
The Lady Rams will play at 3:15 against Perrin and at 6:15 against Peaster in pool play today.
MWHS will host Bridgeport (5 p.m.) on Friday before returning to Peaster on Saturday for bracket play.
However, the coach said she is not panicking as the Lady Rams, who continue non-district play today at the Peaster tournament, have in addition to the tournament five non-district matches to settle things before the important portion of the schedule begins.
“It will be nice to play three matches today,” Eggleston said. “We have a lot of work to do this week.”
Transfer Ashley Valdez, who was eligible for varsity last week, is a big presence on the front row, giving Eggleston a big, strong hitter on the outside and a “go-to girl” for starting senior setter Erin Burgeson and junior setter Riley Bullock.
“It is nice to have Ashley up, and a few others are starting to separate themselves,” Eggleston said. “(Middle hitters) Ashlynn (Robinson) and Bailey (Simonton) have stepped up, and the middle position is hard to play.
“Ashlynn has really done well as far as blocking is concerned. “Brittany (Guill) has also shown progress. But all the hitters are still adjusting to each other and the setters, and it is just a learning curve.”
One area where Eggleston has not had a worry is libero, as two-time all-district libero Bethany Allen anchors the back row.
“Bethany has been playing back row for us since our playoff match in her freshman year,” Eggleston said. “She rarely lets a ball touch the floor.
“We have adjusted our defense a little and have put Bethany on the left side because we are going against a lot more teams that hit cross (court).
“She is picking up a lot more balls since we made this move. Bethany is a natural athlete and will succeed anywhere I put her.”
Eggleston said she will use the Peaster tournament and the remaining non-district matches to finalize rotations.
“There are a couple of holes to fill,” she said. “But what I really want to see for the rest of the non-district schedule is more consistency from the team overall.
“We need to be consistent in serving, passing, setting and hitting, and that will help us be successful in matches. I want to see our team come together and play consistent from point one to point 25.”