Volleyball: New coach bases program on teamwork
Velvet Steel wanted two things from her team when she took over the Douglas High School volleyball program in June.
“My first goal was trying to get a team that I didn’t have to start from scratch with,” Steel said. “And I also wanted a group of girls that would get along with each other.”
It didn’t take her long to find either.
Steel arrived to find a full stable of returning talent occupying the roster of the defending Sierra League champions and a couple of surprises to round out what should be one of the better teams in the Northern 4A this season.
“It’s a great group of girls, from the varsity level on down,” Steel said. “It’s the type of group that you wish you could have two varsity squads for because there is so much talent here. There are a lot of girls on the junior varsity level that I would have loved to bring up.”
And the team chemistry?
“Coming in here, I just wanted to get the chemistry down,” she said. “I didn’t want any drama or conflict. I wanted them to be able to work together as a team and be friends.
“So far, that’s how it is, and I’m very pleased about that. They’ve all been great. They’re nice girls”
While they may be very nice off the court, the Tigers could very frankly be scary on it.
Douglas returns four players from last year’s squad, which went 20-3 overall and swept through its 12-game Sierra League schedule undefeated before losing to Galena in the regional finals.
“On the court I went them to be aggressive,” Steel said. “I want them to do damage. I want everyone to know who they by what they do on the floor.
“We’ve got some very powerful hitters and I think that will work to our advantage this year.”
Kayla Dunn, the team’s lone senior, will lead the team into the season as the Tigers’ captain. She’ll be joined by junior Cayla Knapp, a dominating presence at the net last season who earned first-team all-Sierra League honors, junior setter Katy Marsh, a second-team all-leaguer, and junior Dawson Joyce-Mendive in the core of returners.
Two tranfers from California, Erin Fitzgerald (Riverside) and Monica Knight (South Lake Tahoe), should provide a large boost defensively for Douglas.
“Both of those girls are great hitting the ball and great on defense,” Steel said. “We’re very happy to have them.”
Rounding out the varsity roster are several talented call-ups from last year’s junior varsity squad, including juniors Annie Austin, Jennifer Baer, Whitney Estes, Morgan McKay and sophomore Dana Pardee.
Douglas opened its season Tuesday night against Reed. The Tigers will next head to Elko Thursday at 6 p.m.
– Joey Crandall can be reached at email@example.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.