Girls volleyball practice began Monday morning under the direction of second-year head coach Sue Weems and junior varsity coach Krystal Garvin in preparation for the season-opening away match against Chino Valley Tuesday, Aug. 29. Home matches begin with Globe visiting Aug. 31.
Both coaches are optimistic about improving on last years' 31-8 mark.
"We should be strong," Weems said.
Weems said it is too early to tell what type of offensive and defensive sets she is going to employ.
"The first week of practice is devoted to conditioning drills and refreshing skills," she said. "Then for two weeks, we work in teams to set our offense and defense."
The squad will be cut to more manageable size Wednesday.
Garvin said the team lost two setters and strong middle and outside players to graduation. "We are struggling for setters," she said. "But we have four strong players up from the JV squad."
After the cuts the varsity and JV teams will be whittled down to eight to 10 players.
"The freshman squad may keep 12," Garvin said.
Players who will make the cut are those who are coachable, dependable and have the right attitude about competition.
Weems said that after the cuts, she will begin running skill drills.
Weems took over the girls varsity program at the beginning of last season, after the sudden departure of the previous coach.
"The girls adapted quickly," she said, "but this is my first year to plan."
A part-time librarian at Payson Elementary School, Weems said the difference between teaching in the classroom and coaching is that sports requires certain physical skills.
"Teaching is more individualized. Students rely on each other in sports," she said.
She said she's not aware of any senior players who might go to college on an athletic scholarship, except Rheanna Martinez.
Martinez a middle hitter for the girls volleyball team, and starting forward in girls basketball said she has people looking at her.
"I have offers coming in track and field," she said. She runs the 100- and 200- meter races and participates in long jump and triple jump events. Though undecided at the moment, Martinez said she is leaning toward UCLA or USC.
Garvin has full reign of the JV program. She sees her role as preparing players for the next level. As assistant to the head coach, Garvin said she looks for problems. "I provide input to the team on all aspects of the game," she said.
Highlights of the upcoming season are two matches with Show Low and the Payson Invitational, Sept. 8 and 9.