“I got, I got it.”
The players’ voices rang out above the din at Marion High School’s volleyball practice.
After finishing third in leagues in 2017, the team is going through a transition, so communication is key.
The Warriors have a new coach and only three remaining letter-earners.
“We have very few girls who have had varsity experience, one of our girls started a little bit last year, but not consistently,” first-year coach Kris Burkholder said. “So we’re a younger team but the girls are very dedicated and hard-working. They want to succeed.”
One of the changes she made to ease the adjustment was changing the formation. The team used a 6-2 in 2017, with all six players on the floor qualified as hitters and two of them working as setters. Burkholder moved to a 5-1 this year, with five hitters and one setter.
“Our challenge with the 5-1 is that when the setter’s on the front row, we only have two hitters,” she said. “So one thing we’re looking at is putting in more back row hitting.”
Burkholder comes to the varsity team after coaching the middle school team for several years. This means Burkholder has previous experience with all her players, but a lot of evolution occurs between middle school and high school athletics.
“Players change a lot too,” she said. “In middle school they might have played setter and now they play hitter.”
The transition between positions can even take place over one year, as with senior Tori Schults. She switched to middle hitter after playing on the wing in 2017, so she had to shorten her run-up for spikes.
“Coach has tried to switch me to a two-step this year since my legs are so long and I’m in the middle,” Tori said. “I don’t have much room to move further back like I did on the outside last year.”
Despite the overhaul, the Warriors do not feel disjointed as a unit, setter Chloe Burkholder said.
“I feel like the whole team’s closer than the whole team was last year,” she said. “There aren’t as many seniors as last year, so people aren’t scared of the seniors.”
The goal for the Warriors is to play well throughout the season, ultimately winning the league.
“We have to come out on top in leagues,” Tori said. “That’s going to be a main goal for us.”
Doing well in the Wheat State League is about more than just bragging rights. It secures the Warriors a better seed going into sub-state.
With a second place finish at the Peabody-Burns Volleyball Invitational, the girls are off to a strong start.