Girls volleyball uses strong start to boost state tournament hopes

Twelve girls on the court, facing their opponents with a shared look of determination on their faces, all with one goal in mind: victory. With a shot at state constantly at stake throughout the season, a strong ratio of wins to losses for games is necessary for a path to success, according to senior co-captain Emma Almburg.

Girls volleyball started their season off strong with a win against Hersey High School in two straight sets. Head Coach Kelly Dorn saw these early victories as the start of a long path to the state tournament.

“We want to get a top-four seed in the region for the state tournament,” Dorn said.

The hope is to win 25 of their 30 games total in order to maintain a consistent ratio throughout the season and, according to Almburg, this ratio will set the team up for success in conference. Senior co-captain Kendall Smith has similar hopes for the year.

“We want to win our conference,” Smith said. “We also are trying to get seeded [highly] for playoffs.”

In order to maintain this success, the team utilizes specific drills in order to practice techniques that will lead to success at games. The biggest focus in practice are drills that will keep their serves deep in the court and consistently in play, according to Almburg.

“We [practice] ball control and serve receive [drills] every day,” Dorn said.

Almburg also hopes that the team stays bonded because team chemistry is a crucial part of their success. It’s important to keep the team anchored on both attack and defense, according to Almburg. 

“Another goal is the connections with everyone,” Almburg said. “[We need to make] sure we play fluidly and we trust each other in the front and back row.”

The captains have responsibilities different from the other players, according to Almburg, and one key role of the captains in to keep team chemistry strong.

“Just making sure that [everyone] is included in the team and [comfortable is key],” Almburg said.

Smith also believes that Dorn’s coaching style is one of the team’s biggest advantages over their opponents. Her unique approach helps the team gain a mental edge on rivals thanks to Dorn’s ability to contextualize in-game situations, according to Smith.

“I think she helps us see the bigger picture, whereas most coaches say ‘try to win’,” Smith said. “She not only talks about the volleyball side of the game but also the mental piece of the game which is a big part of volleyball.”

Team goals are important to everyone, according to Smith, and a 9-2 start to the season puts the team on pace to fulfill them. However, Smith also has some personal goals that she feels necessary to pursue over the course of the year.

“[I want to be] consistent as a player,” Smith said. “ [I need to focus] on my side of the court and being there for my team.”

All in all, Dorn is happy with her team and is excited to see them compete and win during their season. With a strong team this year, Dorn hopes the team can fulfill their goal of getting a top-four seed at the state tournament.

“This is a really special group of girls, they have great personalities and they all work hard for each other,” Dorn said. “I’m excited to see them win as a team.”