This archived article was written by: Katie Bigelow
Utah State University-Eastern volleyball Lady Eagles returned to the court after the summer break. They were the first students to return to campus, and the first team to play on the new court. The Lady Eagles began three-a-day practices on Monday, Aug. 15.
Returning as sophomores players include Nicole Roberts, Abigail Ericson, Danee Merrell, Joy Malone, Kylie Cordon, Miranda Parkinson, and Kristine Reddington.
New players to the team are Samara Wells, Beth Liddell, Megan Peterson, Malorie White, Lindzee Bair, and Whitney Fieldsted. The team comes from Utah, Idaho and Montana.
Co-head coaches Chelsey Warburton and Grant Barraclough were pleased with the way the team started off their practice season. “We had good three-a-day practices where the girls worked hard. You could tell who had not worked out as much over the break, and who was a little out of shape. They stepped up and made up the difference quickly,” Barraclough commented.
Typical with the beginning of most athletic seasons, there are bound to be injuries. Barraclough said, “We are working to rehab those with injuries.”
The Lady Eagles began their season play with a tournament invite to the College of Southern Idaho on August 26-27, 2011. The first games proved the team had little time to prepare. Many other schools at the tournament had been practicing since the first of August. “We were weeks behind because the other teams had been playing together for almost a month,” said Barraclough.
The team won a set in a match against a four -year school, Carroll College from Helena, Montana. Warburton said, “We tried different rotations to see who could play well together.”
Barraclough added, “The different rotations we tried didn’t gel well together. Carroll had really tall girls, who put us out of rhythm.”
Saturday fared better for the Lady Eagles. “Once we found the rotation that fit, it was too late to pull ahead,” said Barraclough.
Warburton added, “The girls played better on Saturday. We went five games against Northwest College. There were a few service errors, but we worked better together.”
They team visited Salt Lake Community College on September 2-3, for another four-game tournament. Friday’s games had the Lady Eagles losing in three games against Western Wyoming. They then played North Idaho College and lost in five games. Saturday was also a struggle against Western Nebraska and Southern Idaho.
Coaches have great expectations for this year’s team. Barraclough said, “We have a good defensive team. The defense makes other teams work hard to play us. We have the offensive tools to beat teams with, but we have a strong and solid defense.” Coach Warburton said, “I expect the girls to become more comfortable with playing with each other. I also want to make our program better and stronger.”
The team will travel to Arizona for a three-day tournament September 8-10. They will finally be back in home territory on Sept. 16, for an All-Star game at 7 p.m. in the BDAC.