After a long summer of workouts, camps and tournaments, California Lady Pintos volleyball began a new season with two exhibition matches at the Columbia-Battle Volleyball Jamboree between the Fatima Lady Comets and Battle's Lady Spartans.
In their first match against Fatima, the teams went back and forth in the first set until Fatima capitalized on mistakes to win the first set 21-14. After a pep talk with head coach Julie Bailey, the Lady Pintos came back to win the second set 21-14 and end the match in a 1-1 tie.
Bailey said the struggles against Fatima came from a combination of inexperience, nerves and miscommunication. Once the team was able to put those setbacks behind them, they were able to take care of business like they wanted to in the second set.
"We were struggling with communication and passing, which made it difficult to get our offense going. We also have some younger girls playing varsity for the first time and I believe nerves were part of the problem as well," Bailey said. "Our serve receive improved in the second set. So we were able to take advantage of our offensive attack. I think by the second set some of the nerves were calming down, and the girls were better able to focus on executing."
In their second match against Battle, the two teams went back and forth in the first set to a 12-12 tie. California was able to pull away and win the first set by scoring nine of the last 10 points to win the first match 21-13. Battle came back strong in the second set and made numerous diving digs to stay alive. The set came down to the wire with California winning 21-19 to sweep the set.
Bailey was happy about the response her team made after their slow start against Fatima. She was particularly pleased with how the players were able to compete at a high level against a high-level program.
"It is always nice to compete with a bigger school. They had some big hitters and blockers as well as a scrappy libero. We were able to dig their big hits and capitalize on our offense to put them in defensive mode more than they would have liked," Bailey said.
Since the jamboree was a pre-season event, Bailey had the opportunity to mix and match the lineups on the court to build team chemistry. The experiment produced multiple outcomes Bailey will take into account as the regular season gets under way this week.
"Macie Trimble and Ella Bailey have been a pretty good duo for years. They have played together for a long time and read each other well. When Ella gets the ball to Macie she is a powerful force at the net and is able to pick apart defenses. Penelope Cotten was also a key in our offensive attack as well," Bailey said. "We tried Emilia Collier and Tayte Higgins in the middle opposite of Macie Trimble. I also used both Amberlie Traver and Amelia Motley as the libero. We have younger players who we are trying to develop and give as much experience as possible."
Bailey said her team needs to improve their communication to improve serve-receiving and defense. In her own words, "Without good passing, it is impossible to take advantage of our strong offensive attack."
After taking on Father Tolton Catholic in their season opener Tuesday, California will host their conference rival, the Boonville Lady Pirates, on Thursday.