On Aug. 24 a chorus of voices and bouncing balls emerged from the Mineral County High School gym. It was the last day of volleyball tryouts, and the teams were getting ready for another season.
Shelley Tweedy, girls volleyball coach, said the school will be able to field two complete teams this year.
“We’ve got about 21 to 22 kids, so we’re going to carry full rosters for both the JV and the varsity,” Tweedy said. “We’re really excited. This is the biggest volleyball program we’ve had in a while.”
The only two returning players are Kelsey Viani-Wittwer, team captain, and Ada Williams.
Tweedy said she relies on Viani-Wittwer’s sway with the other girls to help train the team.
“She’s just got great leadership skills,” Tweedy said. “Tallent, she’s a great motivator, she’s just a super special kid. Along with that she manages to not only lead this team but she carries a 4.0 GPA. She’s unique.”
Among the new players, there isn’t anybody who doesn’t stand out in one way or another, Tweedy said.
“I was just really shocked,” she said. “What impressed me the most about all of them was the commitment. This group has committed 110 percent to every practice, every drill.”
Tweedy said the team came together during this year’s volleyball camp in Carson City.
It was the first year in “a while” the school sent its volleyball players to camp, Tweedy said.
“The girls came back and they made so much progress,” she said. “They’re a really high energy group.”
Tweedy said the program was depleted by graduations, but she thinks new talent will come in to pick up the slack.
“We lost a lot of seniors last year, so we lost a lot of talent, but these girls are coming along,” Tweedy said. “They’re high energy, they’re talented, just a special group of girls.”
Tweedy said she had to start by teaching her team the basics and fundamentals, but has moved on and hopes to build a flexible squad.
“We’re going to try to teach them where we are capable of running more than one offense,” Tweedy said.
Offensively, volleyball players are considered setters or attackers. When a team receives the ball from the opposing offense, the goal is usually to field the ball in the most advantageous way possible, set it near the net, and have an attacker try to drive the ball into the ground on the opposing team’s side of the net.
The Serpents will run a new offense. Last year’s team ran a modified 5-1.
The 5-1 uses one setter and five attackers. In this system many teams use the team leader as the setter. It allows attackers to have a consistent feel for the setting of one player.
On the other hand, it sometimes creates a situation where the setter receives the ball and someone else must set it.
This year, Tweedy said, the team will focus on a 4-2 offense.
The 4-2 offense uses four attackers and two setters. Setters are always on opposite sides of the court. It’s a more balanced and simple offense that allows players to learn the game and eliminates the risk of a setter receiving an attack.
There is also no defensive specialist.
“It gives you the opportunity to get your setters in place for any given play,” Tweedy said. “It’s a fairly basic offense, but it gives fairly good court coverage and it gives the girls a chance to learn all the skills.”
After the team has the 4-2 down, Tweedy said she hopes to set them to work learning the 5-1 and 6-2, a formation that is a mix of the other two.
In the 6-2 there are two setters who also act as attackers.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot of advantage or disadvantage to either offense,” Tweedy said. “ […] The advantage or disadvantage comes in being able to apply the offense or defense that works best against the competition that you’re playing.”