Saints hope to equal success of last year |

Saints hope to equal success of last year

Preston Utley/Vail DailyThe Vail Christian volleyball team gathers around the net before warming up Wednesday at practice in Edwards.

EDWARDS – The girls on the Vail Christian volleyball team have a close relationship, and not just because they are a small school.This tends to happen when two sets of sisters are on a team of 10 players.

And when four of the six starters are sisters, communication is innate.”Just knowing what they are thinking, what moves they make, that really helps,” said senior Nicole Parker.Both Nicole and her younger sister, Jackie, return to the team. Bradie Beagley, another senior, will share the court with her younger sister, Britni.”I think there is big chemistry between sisters,” said Kaley Hagerman, the only senior without a sibling on the team.But the chemistry goes beyond just the sisters, and the team hopes the family atmosphere will help fill the holes from last year’s team.”They really care for each other,” said head coach Cathy Alexander. “When a team is a team, whether they are 6-feet tall, or 5-feet tall, it’s hard to beat a group of kids who work together. I think these girls are going to drive in this direction.”With the departure of Rachel Glandorf, Lauren Mutter, and Sophia Martin, the team lost some height. Glandorf was a huge presence on the team, and her big hits will be missed.”With Rachel gone, it’s going to be harder,” said Bradie Beagley. “This is going to be the first year we don’t have the one big star player, so now, our team is going to be the one that stands out.” The Saints do return three starters in the elder Beagley and elder Parker, as well as Hagerman. All three seniors have been on the team for four years. Jackie Parker saw considerable time last year coming into the lineup. Rounding out the roster are Kristin McGinty, Samantha Francis, Kelly Bowles, Molly Brooks, and Monica Schultheis.”I think we have a lot of potential this year,” said Britni Beagley. “We have a lot of young talent, with high energy.”Placing talentAlexander wants to use the skill set of this year’s team to its fullest.”I think this team’s dynamics are going to be a little different,” Alexander said. We are a little quicker, so we are going to try to shift the way we play a little bit.”The team will continue to use the 6-2 offensive set, but Alexander may switch to a 5-1 depending on how things develop. Unlike last year, however, the Saints will concentrate on using a faster attack.”We may not hit the ball as hard as last year, but we are going to hit it a lot quicker,” Alexander said.The attack will likely come from low, middle hitters, versus outside hitters. Bradie Beagley and Nicole Parker will set up big hitters like Hagerman, Brooks and McGinty.On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints will also rely on speed.”Being a scrappy team is going to be one of our biggest additions this year,” Beagley said.In practice, Alexander has conveyed this message to the team.”Coach has been emphasizing that she doesn’t want any balls touching the ground,” Parker said. A rule change instituted this year that could benefit the quick team is the option of using a libero.”There are some girls on our team that can definitely pick up that position,” Beagley said.Regardless of what system the Saints play, Alexander thinks her players are capable of adapting and improving throughout the year.”We’ll be building up to being a lot faster and a lot more precise with our passing in our approach,” Alexander said. “You can expect some longer rallies coming from us.”Competition”Our league lost a lot of players,” Alexander said. “Vail Mountain will be the strong team, but the other four teams lost a lot of players and are all young.”Most of the Saints played on teams in the winter and summer against girls in the league, so they know what they are up against. “Vail Mountain is our biggest rival, but you can’t really overlook anybody,” Hagerman said. Nicole Parker knows the competition and thinks the team has a good chance to make the playoffs, but also likes what she sees in the crystal ball for after this year.”Even after (the seniors) leave we’ll get better and better,” said Parker.For now, Vail Christian hopes to groom its talented young players so that the Saints can repeat the success of last season.”I think we have potential to go farther than last year,” Hagerman said. “It’s all about putting it together emotionally and mentally.”The Saints will test their skills this Saturday when they scrimmage Eagle Valley.Sports writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608 or via icropp@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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