Pack volleyball continues tough stretch of gamesPublished 10:08am Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The Washington volleyball team continues to fight its way through a taxing out-of-conference schedule, one that head coach Kelly Slade expects to pay dividends come conference play.
“When I think about our schedule before the season starts, I always choose the best teams in our area, and that’s traditionally been J.H. Rose, D.H. Conley and South Central,” Slade said. “And I think playing them pre-conference, it gives us the opportunity to play up, which makes us better, and it helps me determine our strengths and weaknesses, understanding what we need to do to move forward.”
Even with a lineup consisting of mostly seniors, Slade has tested and reworked different rotations and is beginning to incorporate youth into veteran expertise. Sophomores Meghan Moore and Sarah Lynch as receiving considerable playing time, contributing in key situations, while seniors Adriana Tyson, Alexis Brooks, Abby Walker and Allison Brantley serve as the static pieces to the lineup.
Against powerhouse J.H. Rose last week, Class 2-A Washington was no match for the 4-A Rampants from the loaded Eastern Carolina Conference, but the Pam Pack held its own in the third game against the Rose reserves, winning 25-18. Despite the 3-1 loss in the match, Slade is staying calm, using the out-of-conference schedule to fix mistakes, while staying focused on conference play, which begins on Sept. 9 on the road at Farmville Central.
Washington responded with a 3-1 win over Riverside Thursday and on Monday, the Pam Pack faced off against another formidable Eastern Carolina opponent in South Central. Washington lost, this time in straight games, but Slade said there was much to take away from her team’s performance.
“(Monday’s) game told me that I have a group of fighters,” Slade said. “We progressively did better as the game went on, as you can see by the score. That third game they were really fighting for every single point. They never gave up and were really determined to win that game. The outcome didn’t come out like we wanted to, but they were all giving 110% and working really well together.”
After losing the first game 25-13, the Pam Pack switch to a more defensive lineup in the second game, built around sophomore setters and the core of seniors. They lost the second game, 25-18, and the third, 25-21.
Walker finished with 12 kills, two blocks and an assist, while Tyson had a big day, notching three aces, 11 kills and three blocks.
While a regular rotation is hardly set in stone, Washington has an offensive and defensive lineup that it can switch between, depending on the opponent.
“We’re getting closer, eliminating things I haven’t found the perfect combination for yet,” Slade said. “But I do feel like we’re going to get there and I’m trying to utilize all the talent I have — whatever combination works best. I’m still working on it and trying to figure out the best way to optimize my talent.”
Washington will look to jump back above the .500 mark today when the Pam Pack host the Riverside Knights. Varsity is set to take the court at 6 p.m.