By Eric Ingles Democrat Sports Editor
August 12, 2014
The Cole Camp volleyball team spends part of the day Tuesdays and Thursdays in the weight room. Since the start of summer, CrossFit has been part of the Bluebirds routine as they get ready for the 2014 season.
Junior Gabbi Mallard said she’s seen improvement on the court because of the training.
“You can jump higher, you can move faster from point A to point B faster,” she said. “You’re smarter because you have to be smart with this and it just makes you a smarter player.”
Following a 9-0 Kaysinger Conference regular season in 2013 in which they did not lose so much as a set, the Bluebirds return most of their roster
Leading the way is a talented senior class which includes Kaleena Logan, now getting used to the role of team leader.
“I have to talk more, keep every body up, talk them up,” she said.
Logan and Mallard lead a Bluebirds front row with a lot of depth.
“Tory Viebrock’s been doing a nice job for us on the front row,” said Cole Camp coach Abby Massingill. “We have a couple of underclassmen that have been stepping up and I’d like to see them do some big things; Bailey Heimsoth and Alyssa Oelrichs. We definitely have some depth this year that I can use as hitters.”
Not only is there depth, the Bluebirds have front row players capable of playing multiple roles.
“It’s different this year because we’re very versatile,” said setter Lauren Baalman. “We have a bunch of different people playing a bunch of places and they’re not set hitters. We move the sets around and they just have to be ready to hit.”
Mallard is one player who will see playing time both on the outside and in the middle. She said that requires knowing where you are at all times.
“If you’re playing outside, you’ve got to know where you are and get out farther,” she said. “If you’re playing middle, you’ve got to move and be around the setter and stay out of her way.”
On the back row, the Bluebirds lost libero Kaylee Kestner to graduation.
“Kaylee did a very nice job last year on defense and we’re going to miss her tremendously,” Massingill said. “Cameron Snell has been doing a nice job on the back row for us. She’s a senior this year. She played some defense for us last year. She’s really stepped in and embraced her role as a senior and I’ve really seen some really good improvements from her.”
A week into practice, Baalman is encouraged by what she’s seen from the back row defense.
“We’re getting to our spots,” Baalman said. “It’s just a matter of getting the passes up.”
With the depth the Bluebirds have, there has been a lot of competition in practice.
“We have such a strong bench that everybody has to work for their position,” Logan said.
Logan has seen a lot of talent from her team, now they just have to put it all together as they look to defend their regular season crown.
“It motivates us to even do better this year,” Massingill. “I told the girls that we did a lot of good things last year, but we will need to step it up and take our play to the next level because there are all eyes on us.”
But none of it will be easy for the Bluebirds. In the Kaysinger Conference alone, they will have to make their way through a schedule of tradition power Green Ridge, reigning district and Kaysinger Tournament champion Sacred Heart and Stover, the team which knocked Cole Camp out of the Kaysinger Tournament in three games in the semifinal.
“I feel we have one of the strongest conferences in the area,” Massingill said. “Nobody’s going to lie down for us.”