It’s a new team this year at Eads High School as head coach Chelsea Davis is still trying to figure out how to replace the strong presence of last year’s seniors Mariah Smith and Brenna Rouse. Smith was a prominent figure in the middle and led Eads in blocks, while Rouse was the go-to hitter from the outside for Eads. Another key player, expected to step into a starting position this year, chose not to play. The remaining team has many players with a lot of varsity court time, but there are players who are in different roles and new faces are on the court, as well. The lack of cohesiveness, offensively and defensively, resulted in a fast loss on Tuesday to the visiting Springfield Longhorns in three straight games, 25-19, 25-14, and 25-22.
Eads brings mostly seniors to the starting line up including faces we saw in different roles a year ago. Davis is trying to work Lauren Spady into the main setter position, a role that is new for her, although she played it a little in her underclassman years. Last year, Spady donned the white Libero jersey and effectively held down the back line for Eads. This year, that Libero role has been assigned to senior Hadlie Rittgers, who was one of the setters from a year ago. Eads also brings the strong senior middle hitter Brooklynn Jones to the court. She will work in tandem with outside hitter Emily Gyurman, yet another senior. Three new varsity players who spent a lot of time on the court on Tuesday were sophomore Ally Spady (setter), junior Kaycee Ellenberger (outside hitter), and senior Kaylee Wilson (middle) who left Lamar Softball to join the Eads Volleyball team this year. Another player, junior Lauren Brown, will see a lot of outside hitting time, as well.
On Tuesday, Springfield simply kept the ball alive and attacked in a haphazard fashion that was enough to throw off the defensive players from Eads. The first set showed Eads’ hesitation and lack of confidence in their new roles as they were generally out of sync and stood around for most of the set. Midway through, with Spady on the service line, the Lady Eagles earned four straight points with Jones in the middle. But that would be all the run they would make.
By the second set, the Eagles continued to dive bomb as they suffered through miscue after miscue. By the end of first rotation, the Lady Eagles trailed Springfield, 7-16. It really was not so much that Springfield played great volleyball, it was more that Eads just played unorganized and with lack of intensity.
Giving Eads credit, the third set looked good for the girls as they made a comeback late in the contest and trailing, 23-20. Gyurman nailed an ace serve and Jones put down a big kill to tie the game. But, unfortunately, the run ended on a missed serve and an error.
Coach Davis was philosophical on the team’s out-of-the-gate performance stating, “We were a bit out of sync having girls playing in new positions, a senior who hasn’t played since Junior High, and missing Brown due to illness. We definitely didn’t play up to our potential against a scrappy Springfield team sitting back on our heels and making a lot of silly mistakes. However, it’s still really early, and I’m confident this group of girls will get in the groove. We’re looking forward to some good match ups at the round robin in Manzanola with the Bobcats and Sierra Grande on Friday.”
On Friday, the Eads Middle School team will play at 2:00 pm and then the high school round robin begins at 4:00 pm.