Prep Volleyball: Teamwork leads Garrard past Danville to first victory
Garrard County coach Dickie Gilbert talks to his players during a timeout in the first set of Garrard¿s victory over Danville on Thursday. (Mike Marsee / August 17, 2012)
The Golden Lions are blending a handful of veterans, a handful of first-year players and a rookie coach, and it all came together Thursday night as they won for the first time in four matches this season.
They swept three sets from 45th District rival Danville for a 25-12, 25-21, 25-17 victory at Garrard Middle School, and one of the team’s most experienced players said it wasn’t hard to see the key to that win.
“Teamwork. We worked together,” senior Sam Price said.
That’s something the Lions have been working on since the team came together earlier this summer, and the work is going to continue for a while.
“It’s been a work in progress,” junior Devin Conley said.
Conley is one of a half-dozen or so first-year players on the Garrard roster, and those players have been combined with five or so returnees who contributed to last year’s team.
“It just takes a while for us to adjust and them to adjust and then come together,” Price said.
Dickie Gilbert, a longtime volleyball official who is in his first year as Garrard’s coach, said he knew that wouldn’t happen overnight.
“They’re trying to trust each other, and when that happens, when they get that together, they’ll be a lot better,” Gilbert said.
The Lions lost to Madison Southern and McCreary Central in the first week of the season, and Estill County defeated them two sets to one earlier this week in a match that Gilbert said his team could have been won.
Gilbert said between the changes on the roster and the change to the style he wants the Lions to play, they have had a lot to learn.
“They’re trying to learn how to play the game,” he said. “Hopefully by losing some games out of region and out of district, then we’ll get better as time goes along. I didn’t think we’d be where we want to be three or four games in, and I still don’t think we are. By mid-September, I think we’ll be OK.”
Gilbert liked the fight he saw from his team in the second set Thursday. After cruising through the first set, the Lions (1-3, 1-0 district) fell behind 16-9 in the second before rallying to win it.
“It was a great sign,” he said. “The kids didn’t give up when they thought they were beat.”
Danville coach Melissa Howard said there were also good signs within that set and in the relatively close third set for the Admirals (0-2, 0-1), who are trying to improve on their 3-27 record last year.
“We’re doing heads and tails above last year. We showed up against Anderson County last Thursday and had a great first set against them and it kind of died down after that, and then showed up here,” Howard said. “We’re competing. By the end of the year, I know we’ll be winning games.”
Howard said she sees things in her team that she didn’t see last season.
“We know the game a lot better,” she said. “We’ve got just a good group of girls. They’re really working as a team this year. I think last year we had some ups and downs as far as team bonding, and this year we’re like glue, so I really see us coming together by the end of this year.”
Garrard came together a bit sooner thanks to the turnaround in the second set, which gave the Lions a commanding lead in the best-of-five match and an idea of what they can do by working together.
“We just kind of weren’t playing our hardest, and we weren’t working together like a team,” Price said.