With less than three weeks until tryouts, Faribault eighth-grade and high school volleyball players got a taste of what’s to come during this week’s summer camp.
Faribault High School head coach JoAnna Lane said the gym has been as full as ever for these sessions despite zero seniors going out for the team.
“We do a lot of just helping them remember the drills, learn the drills so when they come to tryouts it’s fresh in their memory,” Lane said. “We try to get them back into volleyball shape. A lot of them have done a great job with speed and strength, but it’s completely different being in volleyball shape. So getting as many touch reps as we can. Also team chemistry. We need better chemistry this year. A lot of time what hurts is chemistry and getting them back out on the court and how to gel, who plays well together and working on some of those kinks.”
Junior setter Bennett Wolff said the camp has been all-encompassing.
“We’ve worked on all of our skills,” Wolff said. “We’ve been doing a lot of games, a lot of scrimmages, kind of breaking things down.”
Junior outside hitter Payton Ross said the Falcons will be “a young team, but we’ll have a lot of different options.”
Added Wolff of the team’s desired identity: “Just a young, competitive, scrappy team that’s not afraid of anyone.”
Lane said she’s beginning to see healthy competitions play out for various positions on the court. FHS has the most production to replace closer to the net.
“I think this is the most girls we’ve had in the gym for a while. I’m really excited, without any seniors, it forces girls to step up into new roles,” Lane said. “They’re seeing each other battle, which is great. The chemistry and competition is there where as before girls thought they had a certain spot and right now ‘Oh, this girl can take my spot’ and they’re battling for that. A good program needs options out there.”
The four-day camp supplements eight skill sessions that ran from June through July.
“A skill session is a lot more actually playing,” Lane said. “(Here) we do more technical work. We do more drill work here versus skill sessions we focused on a lot of serve receive and then playing.”
Young players aren’t left behind, either. A youth summer camp was held July 15-18 for incoming first- through eighth-graders.
FHS varsity opted to compete in a summer league for the first time in several years. Competition included Big 9 rival Red Wing along with some talented smaller schools in the area like preseason Class A No. 1 Kenyon-Wanamingo and 2018 Class A state entrant Medford, along with other southern Minnesota squads.
Faribault was without some players throughout league play and did not finish atop the standings.
“I think that’ll help a lot because before in previous years we’ve never been able to work with our team before the year,” said junior libero Hanna Cunniff.
Captains will hold open gyms before fall practice opens Aug. 12. The season opener is Aug. 27 at Farmington.
“Everyone needs to be there,” urged the three juniors for the home opener 7 p.m. Aug. 29 vs. Class A No. 5 Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.