By Josh Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Glendale High School volleyball team enters the 2017 season as underdogs.
The Lady Falcons are okay with that. In fact, they embrace it.
“I don’t think many people are expecting us to do much, but I think we’re going to fight,” junior libero Jacey Noble said. “I just think it makes us stronger.”
Glendale graduated several seniors from last season’s team that went 17-11-3 after falling to Branson in the first round of the Class 4, District 11 tournament.
The Lady Falcons will especially miss middle hitter Elizabeth Quinn, who is now playing at William Jewell University after tallying more than 300 kills as a senior last year.
“We’ve got to find some people to step up and replace that offense that we got out of Elizabeth Quinn,” head coach Stephanie Bates said at practice on August 8. “300-plus kills is pretty substantial in your offense. We’ve got to find some people to step up and contribute in that area offensively.”
Glendale faces several other unknowns entering the new season. Bates is still determining who will play at certain positions. She is looking to find the right combination to expose Glendale’s strengths and minimize the Lady Falcons weaknesses.
Bates will continue to make adjustments throughout the first half of the season.
“I think it will take us to about mid-season to try to figure out a true lineup,” Bates said. “And you know what, a lot of that is going to depend on the girls. If you’ve got two or three girls fighting for one spot, somebody is going to emerge and finally decide, ‘Hey, I want that spot.’
Bates doesn’t plan on losing any ground in the Ozark Conference while she experiments with her lineup.
“I think we can be competitive, we’ve just got to have some confidence and realize that we can be competitive,” she said.
Gabby Birmingham (junior S/OH), Chloe Satterfield (junior S/OH), Isabell Winters (sophomore MH/RS), Jayden Sanford (sophomore RS/MH), Savannah Davison (junior MH/RS) and Tyler Kieny (freshman OH/S) will all compete at the varsity level.
Despite lacking experience, the Lady Falcons aren’t lacking confidence.
And they plan to be playing their best volleyball at the end of the season when it matters most.
“I think we’re going to grow and get a lot better,” Birmingham said. “I think we’ll surprise some people with how we play and how we compete against some teams, but it’s going to be a growth year and I’m excited about it.
“By the end of the year, I think we’ll be at our top ability, I guess you could say. Each game is going to be a new fight and a new way to get better. Each game, we’ll be getting better and competing at a newer level.”
As for being portrayed as underdogs?
“I think we thrive off of it more than anything,” Satterfield said.