Call it one of the worst Groundhog Day episodes in sports.
When healthy, the Lady Wave volleyball team was strong last season. But as soon as someone went down with an injury, Fallon would take a step back, reset and start over. Then the team would be back to full strength before another thing would go wrong.
“Last year, we were just plagued with adversity,” Fallon coach Patty Daum said. “We would find rhythm, play well and then start over. When we found that rhythm again, we were playing really well. We missed out on regionals. The kids are really strong and are conditioning well.”
Fallon returns most of last year’s team and barring any injury or academic mishap, the Lady Wave should be in the running for a playoff bid.
The key for this season that the team does control will be maintaining its unselfish attitude. Daum said each member of the team has put the team’s success ahead of herself, which happened when Fallon went to state several years ago.
“This is probably one of the more unselfish groups I’ve coached,” Daum said. “It reminds me of the kids who went to state. They’re extremely unselfish. They’ll support another teammate before themselves. I’m very excited about this season. We’re going to open up some eyes. The kids are going to do really well.”
Seniors Taylor Amezquita (setter, defensive specialist), Miranda Ford (defensive specialist, libero, outside hitter), Kyla Kincaid (libero, outside hitter, right side) and Megan McCormick (outside, middle and right side hitter) lead this year’s upperclassmen-heavy group.
“The kids worked really hard this summer with open gym,” Daum said.
Juniors Whitney Skabelund (outside and right side hitter, setter), Zoey Swisher (setter, defensive specialist), Misaki Clare (outside and right side hitter, defensive specialist), Kayla Buckmaster (right, middle and outside hitter), Haylee Paladini (right, middle and outside hitter) and LeAnn Stands (right, middle and outside hitter) complement the senior group, while sophomore Faith Cornmesser (right, middle and outside hitter) is the only underclassmen.
“(Buckmaster) didn’t play last year but came back this year. She looks really good. She’ll play any position ask her to,” Daum said. “(Stands) is new to varsity. She’s not even the same plaeyr. She’s kind of learned that you have to work pretty hard to be at the varsity level. She’s really pushed herself.”
Daum said that her only sophomore, Cornmesser, has improved over the season and will be able to contribute.
“Faith has made some big strides,” Daum added. “She has confidence in herself. She’s still in the process in learning the game of volleyball. She’s made some great strides.”
The goal of making the playoffs will need the assistance of continuous improvement, like every season. Keeping up with the class of the league, including Lowry and Truckee, will depend on focus as well.
“They’re hungry this year. There’s no if, ands or buts. They’re hungry for state,” Daum said. “Every student-athlete wants that trophy. They want it all. These kids don’t focus on themselves; they focus on their teammates. It’s not about them. It’s about their teammates. That’s what’s absolute fantastic about this team is they put themselves second.
It doesn’t hurt to keep injuries and academics from interfering, either.
“If we can stay healthy, we’ll be all right,” Daum said. “It seemed like we had one roadblock after another. If we just stay healthy and up on our grades, we’ll be all right.”
Regarding any areas of concern, Daum maintained Fallon needs to work on three things.
“Serve for point, our passing and the defense. Offense comes secondary,” she said. “If we handle those three, then we’ll be fine.
“Our goal is to get better every practice and they’re doing that. They’re focused and ready to go. Every day they get better and better and better.”
Daum added that conditioning will also be important as well as perfecting fundamentals. But with the team’s unselfishness, Fallon looks poised to make some noise this season.
“Our league is a really strong league. I don’t think necessary dominated by one team. It’s wide open,” Daum said. “The kids, their goal is state.”