How do you build a winning team with no seniors? That’s the question Lindbergh volleyball coach Bob Stewart has had to answer this season with his young Eagles team.
To start, Stewart lengthened practices and made them more about player development. He said the great thing about having such a young team is that all of the work he puts into developing these players will come back next year, so he’s building for the future.
Because most of his players play club volleyball, Stewart said his athletes are set up to do well with game experience.
“It’s pretty much a physical maturity issue,” he said. “Mentally, they know what they’re doing. They know the game.”
Lindbergh has no seniors, two sophomores, a freshman and nine juniors on the varsity roster.
“The kids are coming along pretty well,” Stewart said. “Without any seniors, we’re obviously missing a little bit of experience.”
Last season the Eagles relied on a strong senior core. Four starters were lost to graduation, Ashley Goodwin, Jennie Turner, Bridgette Smith and Alaska McGann. Lindbergh also lost its starting libero (designated player intended as a ball-control specialist) from last season, Brooke McGann, when she transferred to Seattle Christian.
There are some returners on which to build a team. Breaunah Jacobs and Melissa Peltier come back as middle blockers; both are juniors.
Outside hitter Erin White is also back from last season. The junior is leading the Eagles in kills, possesses a “terrific jump” and is working on hitting the ball harder. Stewart said often times the team goes as White goes.
“We can basically tell how we’re going to do in the match by watching Erin and a couple of other hitters,” Stewart said.
White is averaging about two kills per game; Stewart would like to see that average inch toward three or four kills per game.
Junior Kaylee Magat will be a big part of the team’s success at the libero spot, a position where she will handle the opposing team’s serve most of the time.
“She’s a really important part of the team,” Stewart said. “She gives us what we need in that first ball handling.”
Magat had two aces and a team-leading 19 digs through the first three matches of the season.
Stewart said the Eagles have
an “interesting setter core.” Sophomore Kristina Batschi and junior Kasey Sporrong will battle for time at that spot. Through three games, Sporrong leads the team in assists, with 26. Batschi has 16, second on the team.
Junior Jessica Hickey has been playing at the opposite position where she has five kills. She also has eight assists.
Stewart expects the Eagles to compete with Evergreen for third or fourth in the league. He said Tuesday night’s match against Highline was a good place to see where the team is, partially because Highline has a “very enthusiastic” home crowd, which could affect the young team.
Season in progress
The Eagles played close, but fell to Highline Tuesday night in three games, putting their season record at 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the Seamount.
White collected seven kills, three digs and three ages. Peltier hit two aces, two blocks and two kills. Batschi led the team with six assists, while Magat led the team with five digs.