Truckee volleyball fall preview: Chemistry is key
Sierra Sun sports editor
Unity, continuity or team chemistry.
However you want to describe it, the Truckee varsity volleyball team is convinced they have it. More importantly, it’s the significant difference between this year and last ” when a Truckee team with plenty of talent brought plenty of drama and finished 4-10 in the Northern 3A.
“This (2004) team should qualify for state,” said head coach Maggie Shane. “What really sets this team apart is their unity. Last year’s team should have qualified for state, but we had personality problems that affected the team chemistry heavily. They were very talented, but they didn’t want to work together.”
It’s one thing for a coach to mention it, but returning starter and senior Jesse Lamm was right in the thick of it.
“Last year, we definitely had a lot of separation with the seniors and juniors; a lot of authority went on,” she said. “There was a lot of drama. (This year), the seniors and juniors really work well together, and we’re pretty leveled out with our skills.”
Despite the negative aura that surrounded the 2003 team, it still managed to find some cohesion when it mattered. Entering the regional tournament as the lowest seed in the Northern 3A (No. 6), Truckee defeated a strong No. 3 North Tahoe team led by heavy hitter Teal Ericsson.
After the strenuous match against their crosstown rivals, Truckee was wiped out physically. Without a break between matches, the Wolverines were ousted by Bishop Manogue, 3-0.
“We were playing really good that day, but North Tahoe went five games and every single game (was close),” said Lamm, Truckee’s outside hitter. “We were just whipped.”
Fittingly, Truckee opens the 2004 league season this afternoon (Sept. 10) at North Tahoe (4 p.m.) Last year, the Wolverines lost to the Lakers twice in the regular season, but then pulled off the upset in regionals. In 2002, it was the exact opposite scenario, Shane said.
Going into today’s matchup, Truckee can rest a little easier knowing the 6-foot-plus Ericsson won’t be on the other side of the net ready to strike.
“Last year they had their dominating hitter, Teal, so we don’t have to face her,” Lamm said. “They lost a lot of other players too, so I think we’re a little more confident this year without Teal (there).”
Ericsson now plays for the University of Nevada, where she recently had 16 kills in a match against St. Mary’s.
Shane has been involved in the Truckee volleyball program for 19 years, she said, and she has had two long stints as the varsity head coach. Her latest stint has covered 1997 until now. Going into this year, she is comfortable not relying on one or two girls.
“Right now, I probably wouldn’t say that I have any one or two people that are stars, as opposed to just having a couple standouts that carry the team,” she said. “Sometimes that’s more important than just having one person (that excels above the rest of the team).”
Shane expects seniors Lamm and captain Alisa Garrison to lead the team, at least emotionally, on the court. Shane considers the defense the team’s early season strength.
“We are working on our offense,” she said. “Our defense is probably our strongest point right now; we’re very good diggers and passers and very aggressive on the floor.”
Senior captain and setter Kelly Murphy thinks the team’s offseason practices also helped form stronger team chemistry.
“We’ve been playing club (volleyball) in the offseason, so we know how to play together,” she said, referring to a club team that often traveled to Sacramento to play. “Our only weakness is we (tend to) play down to other teams’ levels.”
Coach Shane was satisfied with two big wins against 4A schools in a preseason tournament hosted by Lowry on Aug. 27-28. Truckee beat Elko (but also lost to them the next day) and Nampa, a 4A school out Boise, Idaho.
“Every game was very close, and they were very competitive,” Shane said.
Last time Truckee went to the state championship tournament was 2001, Shane said. Southern Nevada’s Moapa Valley has won 13 straight volleyball state titles, including eight in a row since it joined 3A competition in 1996. Those are numbers that exceed dominance.
“That school is (the community’s) social life,” Shane said. “There’s not much else out there. All their teams do very well. We have a few more distractions here. They also have a club team down in Moapa that goes to Las Vegas to play.”
Truckee’s other captain, junior middle hitter Natalie Singer, suffered a mild fracture in her ankle during practice last week and is expected back before the season ends.
Day Date Opponent Site Time
Fri. Sept. 10 North Tahoe North Tahoe 4 p.m.
Tues. Sept. 14 Fernley Truckee 4 p.m.
Thurs. Sept. 16 Incline Incline 4 p.m.
Tues. Sept. 21 Sparks Truckee 4 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 24 Lowry Lowry 4 p.m.
Sat. Sept. 25 Spring Creek Spring Creek 10 a.m.
Tues. Sept. 28 Dayton Dayton 4 p.m.
Thurs. Sept. 30 Yerington Truckee 4 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 5 Fernley Fernley 4 p.m.
Thurs. Oct. 7 Incline Truckee 4 p.m.
Thurs. Oct. 14 Sparks Sparks 4 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 15 Lowry Truckee 4 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 16 Spring Creek Truckee 10 a.m.
Tues. Oct. 19 Yerington Yerington 4 p.m.
Thurs. Oct. 21 Dayton Truckee 4 p.m.
Thurs. Oct. 28 North Tahoe Truckee 4 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 6 Northern 3A regional tournament
Fri. Nov. 12 3A State Championship tournament