Carson High volleyball coach Robert Maw is using a different strategy with this year’s team. He’s going with speed and agility over size, and he’s favoring youth over experience.
The 2013 squad features five seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and a freshman. Setter Danielle Good, Skylar Jones, outside hitter Marleen Quirarte, middle blocker-defensive specialist Savannah Smith and outside hitter Yana Spence are the seniors. Defensive specialist Sarah Christl is up from the JV squad as is middle blocker Gina Peacock. The sophomores are Juliana Anderson, Allison Kibbe, right side Kylie Riske and front-row player Gaby Palazzolo. Anderson and Palazzolo saw extensive time at the varsity level last year. The lone freshman on the team is Jaycie Roberts, who will be the team’s libero.
“We’re extremely athletic,” said Maw, whose team was 13-13 last season and finished fourth in the Sierra League standings. “We lost some size in the middle, so we’re going with speed and agility. I told the girls that I’m not into what grade they are in. I’m not going to keep kids on varsity just because they are seniors. If a younger player can step up and produce it they will play. Seniors weren’t automatically going to get a spot.
“I don’t think there is a dominant team around. Spanish Springs lost all of its seniors. Bishop Manogue lost a couple of their dominant hitters and Reno graduated a couple of their big girls.”
Carson opens with a tournament in Las Vegas on Aug. 30, and then will go to the Carmichael Invitational the following week. Those two tournaments will give Maw a chance to evaluate where certain players will play during the season.
“I like going to Vegas because I get to see teams from the south,” Maw said. “We have so many utility players on this squad, so we’ll use the first two weeks to see where they work best.”
Good takes over at setter for McKenzie Price and Courtney Hack, both of whom have moved on to the college ranks. Good is no stranger to the position, according to Maw.
“She’s been a club setter for the last 4-5 years,” Maw said. “It’s not new to her. We’ve been working with her on sets to the middle. She has to know their moves and getting comfortable with them. We’re not big enough in the middle to put the ball straight down.”
Christl could see some action at setter, and Maw plans to use McKenzie Tucker as a setter during tournaments. During league play, Tucker will set for the JV team because she is the only player at that position. Christl will essentially be a back-row player.
Maw said that Spence has improved immensely from last year, and will most likely be a starter on the front line. He also expects bigger and better things from Anderson, who started many matches as a freshman
“She is the most improved player on the team,” Maw said. “She has worked hard on her passing and her arm swing. We need her to attack the ball and get some power. Juliana has improved her passing. We have to have her pass (well) this year. I felt last year she was not being aggressive (at the net). I want her to just let it rip. I told her not to worry if she hits it long by a foot.”
Palazzolo will play a lot on the right side along with Riske.
“She is a good hitter in transition,” Maw said. “She has struggles with the quick hit (in the middle). Her strength is the transition hit.”
Quirarte, one of the team’s captains, will be primarily a front-row player. Maw loves her attitude.
“I put her in a couple of matches when the girls had their heads down,” he said. “She was very positive and picked the team up. She’s a good fit out there.”
Peacock has the ability to play outside according to Maw, but she has been slotted to play middle most of the time.
“She worked hard during club season and got her swing down,” Maw said. “You could see her on the left side. We need her athleticism in the middle.”
Smith will be a full rotation player for Maw. She was impressive a year ago with her back-row play, and between her and Roberts, Maw is hoping very few balls hit the court, and considers the duo the heart of the defense. Smith, a star on the CHS basketball team, also will be counted on to knock down her share of kills.
Roberts brings a wealth of experience despite the fact she’s a freshman.
“She has been playing for seven or eight years,” Maw said. “She has the best vertical on the team. She can hop out of the gym. There aren’t a lot of balls that she isn’t going to get up or get to.”
And, when you have a small line-up like Carson will employ most of the time, defense certainly will be a key.