LAURINBURG — After emerging triumphant from the 4A Southeastern regular season and going as far as the second round of the state tournaments, Scotland High volleyball coach Molly Hayes and the lady Scots are back on the court this summer preparing for another run.
This group will look very different from the team that only lost three times all last season, as eight players from last year’s roster are no longer a part of Hayes’s squad. Five seniors, including conference player of the year Madaline Millholland, graduated, two players have already suffered season-ending ACL tears, and another moved from the area.
Hayes said that she is relying on returning players to take on a leadership role.
“We’re a young team,” Hayes said. “Ashleigh Bailey, who will be a senior this year, is a great leader through her actions and hard work on the court and she will be a good role model for the rest of the girls.”
But some of the incoming freshmen, Hayes said, bring to the team a much-needed talent infusion.
“I’ve got a great class of incoming ninth-graders who played in our Junior Olympic program this past year and they are great athletes,” Hayes said. “They lack some experience but they are learning quickly and I think they will be good competitors by the end of the season.”
The first regular season match is still a month away, and Hayes is using that time to evaluate talent and piece together what the final roster will look like. She said that she has spent a lot of the time teaching the basics of the game to her players, like proper serving, foot technique, and communication amongst teammates.
“At the open gyms we’ve been having, we’ve had a lot of girls come but there’s such a wide variety of skill out there that it’s been a challenge to make sure they’re all working at the level we want them to be at.”
Official tryouts for the volleyball team will take place Aug. 4-6 between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. each day. Hayes said she should have an idea who will be a part of the program after tryouts are completed, and will decide who is invited to the varsity level shortly afterward.
Despite fielding a less experienced team than last year, Hayes still has high expectations for her program.
“Our expectations are always to win the conference, that’s a goal we always have,” Hayes said. “That’s not going to change because we’re a younger team. Ultimately, my goal for this team is go out there, give 100 percent effort and play like a team with good sportsmanship, and if we do that every game I’ll be very satisfied and we’ll win a lot of games.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3171. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.