The deck may seem stacked against the Fallon volleyball team, but the squad is brimming with optimism.
Coming off a disappointing 7-9 Northern Division I-A record and 15-13 overall mark, Patty Daum’s club aims to return to the postseason.
“You can’t focus on the yesterdays,” she said. “The only thing you can do is learn from it and move on.”
Before the season gets underway, however, Fallon will be without all-league setter Ali Tedford, who is recovering from an injured hip. She is expected to miss the entire season.
Tedford’s loss is a big blow, as the versatile senior rarely left the court and provided leadership.
“She’s the glue that puts this team together,” Daum said. “We have to recover. Adversity has always been our middle name.”
Summer workouts consisted of two practices per day with an emphasis on conditioning. In addition, University of Nevada coach Ruth Lawanson ran a half-day camp for the Lady Wave, while the girls acted as coaches for Lawanson’s other workouts for youth players.
Despite the grueling offseason, Daum said winning is her only expectation and with it, the rest falls into place.
“Every one of them can contribute and in more than one way,” Daum said of her players. “You take care of your teammates and they will take care of you. I have high expectations every year. I don’t think the expectations are unrealistic.”
Setters Zoe Swisher and Taylor Amezquita lead the offensive attack. The duo, Daum said, will fill Tedford’s role.
Amezquita, a junior, was in the rotation last year and brings experience and quickness to the position, while Swisher, a sophomore, brings a team-first attitude and relentless work ethic.
“We have to keep them positive and not let them get down on themselves if one set isn’t good,” junior middle hitter Megan McCormick said of Amezquita and Swisher.
Kristyn Arviso, meanwhile, will stay in the middle and outside, although if injuries crop up with Amezquita or Swisher, Arviso can step in.
Arviso’s career has been tough as she suffered a preseason injury last year, but has returned to full form. She was named one of the team’s captains and paired with McCormick, forms a strong duo up front.
“She has come back to this team in the best shape I’ve ever seen,” Daum said.
“We work better as a team this year,” Arviso added. “With the girls we have coming up … I feel like we connect better.”
Paige Thorn and Aleisa Billups transition to the varsity game, although Thorn has two years of varsity softball under her belt. On the court, though, Daum said the two newcomers are quickly picking up the pace and strategy of the game.
Both play in the backrow as defensive specialists, although Billups has the ability to play up on the net.
Kayla Kincaid is another player who can alter between the front and back, but Daum said Kincaid is set up in the backrow to open the season.
The Lady Wave, however, return a solid core of three seniors and six juniors. Last season, their inexperience showed as Fallon lacked communication and chemistry on the court as the Lady Wave missed the postseason for the first time in several years.
“Last year, for a lot of us, it was our first year on varsity, so now we are more experienced,” Arviso said. “Last year was a lot of nerves and getting into our heads. We need to improve on working together … and bringing each other back up.”
Miranda Ford provides options as a middle hitter/blocker in addition to playing on the outside and backrow.
McCormick returns for her junior campaign coming off a second-team all Northern Division I-A selection last year as a middle hitter.
Bernice Palladini and Evan Matheson also provide depth on the front line.
“I feel like we are going to be better with our defensive skills. We’ve been practicing that nonstop over the summer,” McCormick said.
Senior Maggie O’Flaherty is the newest addition to the Lady Wave, although she is in her first-ever season of volleyball. She transferred from a school in North Carolina, but Daum sees a natural athlete who is a quick study and will contribute off the bench.
“She’s worked relentlessly this summer to pick up the game,” Daum said. “She’s picked up the game really well.”