As the fall season approaches, the Russellville Indians volleyball team is looking to improve its defense en route to a deeper run this season.
Last year, the team's season ended with a record of 6-18-1 after a 2-0 loss to Bunceton with Prairie Home in the first round of the Class 1 District 12 Tournament. Head coach Lisa Groll said the team has been working on its defense in preparation for this season.
"Practice started (last) Monday, and we have been working on our defense," Groll said. "We have in the past kind of struggled with serve receive, but the girls I have this year they are surprising me with how well they are doing as far as not giving up and going after everything."
The team has also been working on its passing and communication between players when on defense. Groll said that as the season goes on, she would like to see the team improve on its communication even further.
The players have shown a remarkable attitude in practices, Groll said.
"I told them that this week is going to be a very strenuous, get in shape quick week, and so far with conditioning and the drills we are running it is not easy," Groll said. "Yet these girls continue to have a smile on their face while they are exhausted, and I know they are not liking what is going on at practice. But their attitudes are overwhelming with one another and I want to see that continue come game time."
Groll said everyone on the team is excited for the upcoming season and that they are ready. She said she's already seen improvements even just since earlier in the summer.
"We had open gym throughout the summer and (the players) have already seen improvements," Groll said.
When it comes to offense, the front row of hitters and blockers might not be the biggest girls but Groll said they are mighty. The Indians can overcome the fact that they are not the biggest team with how well they run their plays. The key, Groll said, is to do everything they possibly can to psyche out the opposing team's blockers so Russellville's shorter hitters are able to get a hit down.
"We will be working on covering our hitters and blockers, but I am also training the girls to turn their wrists to try to get around the blockers," Groll said. "We will be working on running plays on the front row. We worked on that in the past but come game time, the girls kind of freeze and they were always afraid of messing up when trying to run a certain play so they wouldn't do it during game time. I have stressed to these girls that if you play and you hit it into the net or hit it out, it is okay. Do it again because eventually, they are going to get it and they are excited about trying these new plays to pull the blockers."
Russellville volleyball schedule
Aug. 25 - 5 p.m., Jamboree at TBA
Aug. 31 - 6 p.m., vs. North Callaway
Sept. 1 - 6 p.m., vs. Bowling Green
Sept. 3 - 6 p.m., at La Monte
Sept. 8 - 5 p.m., at Stover
Sept. 10 - 5 p.m., vs. Chamois
Sept. 15 - 5 p.m., at Bunceton w/Prairie Home
Sept. 17 - 5 p.m., at Versailles
Sept. 21 - 6 p.m., at Columbia Independent
Sept. 22 - 6 p.m., vs. Dixon
Sept. 28 - 5:30 p.m., at North Callaway
Sept. 29 - 5 p.m., vs. Calvary Lutheran
Oct. 1 - 5 p.m., at Chamois
Oct. 5 - 5 p.m., vs. Tipton
Oct. 8 - 6 p.m., at Centralia
Oct. 10 - TBA, at Belle Tournament
Oct. 12 - 6:30 p.m., vs. Eugene
Oct. 15 - 5 p.m., vs. Fatima
Oct. 17 - 9 a.m., at Eugene Tournament
Oct. 19 - 5 p.m., at Otterville
Oct. 20 - 5 p.m., vs. Linn
Oct. 26-28 - TBA, Districts at TBA