A new coach with an experienced group of players can sometimes work out to be a volatile mix.
The experienced players don't always buy into the new coach's program. But so far, so good says first-year coach Justin Malley, who has taken over the Carson volleyball team.
"I'm adapting to them pretty well," said Malley about his players. "Nothing's negative. I haven't had any negatives or problems. All in all it's been very positive."
Then again, the Senators may not have a choice in the matter. With 10 seniors on this year's squad, there really isn't a time for a breaking in period with their new coach.
"They're a really competitive group," Malley said. "They're really motivated to do well this last year. They're a pretty self-motivated group thus far."
The Senators return eight players from last year's team " all seniors " which finished fourth in the Sierra League, but upset High Desert League champion McQueen in the Northern 4A playoffs before falling to Reno High in the zone semifinals.
Shannon Earwood, with a year under her belt as the team's setter, returns in that position. She will have plenty of weapons to set to in fellow seniors Blaike King, Breanna Anderson, both outside hitters, and middle blockers Nikki Keller, Kailey Taylor and Kristina Diamond. The defense will be led by senior liberos Mavil Diaz and Danae Eckart.
The player who could be the one who puts the Senators "over the top," so to speak, is senior outside hitter Cameo Lomorri, a transfer from Sierra Lutheran.
"I expect her to be a big contributor," Malley said. "Her transfer will be a difference maker as far as how far we go."
The other senior on the squad is outside hitter Samantha Hoch, who earned a place on the team after serving as the club's manager last year.
"She did tremendous work in the offseason," Malley said. "She worked as hard as anybody in the weight room and on the court."
Rounding out the team are two middle blockers up from the junior varsity, junior Brittany Sly and sophomore Elysse Virden.
Carson has been a team in the past know as a scrappy squad who keeps the ball in play. While that shouldn't change there should be plenty of offensive firepower this year as well.
"Defense will be even better I think," Malley said. "Cameo is one of the better defensive players in the area."
While Malley said he doesn't have the one superstar, there are plenty of go-to players on offense.
"We're not the biggest group height-wise but we're very athletic," Malley said. "Offensively we have a lot of interesting options. I've got six on the court who are an offensive threat."
Carson will be in a dogfight not just to be one of the two Northern 4A teams to advance to the NIAA 4A State Championships, but just to make zone.
With the Northern 4A realignment, Malley said there are at least six teams who can make a run at the two state berths, with five of them being from the Sierra League. Four teams from the league will make zone.
Malley said Damonte Ranch, Douglas, Manogue, Galena and his team from the Sierra League can all make a run at state. Reno has moved to the High Desert League and looks to be that league's top team.
"I think realistically there are potentially six teams that have a better than average shot of going to state," Malley said.