Throughout 2020 and 2021, the volleyball program underwent many changes and new ideas over the seasons. The volleyball program was introduced with a whole new staff for this fall season, and the new members are motivated to enforce growth in the program. With new coaches and the largest Freshman class the program has seen in years, the program is bound for new beginnings.
“Our main goals are to grow the volleyball community, to get more involvement, to create leaders on and off the court. It’s so stressful. But it is going so good. We are taking every obstacle coming our way and we are just turning it into a positive experience and getting better as the season goes,” Assistant Head Coach, Kara Bouwens said. “I keep reminding myself the real reason, that we want to have everything as best planned out for these girls so they can just come out and play and win, and hopefully make some good memories.”
This year’s tryouts were overflowing with girls trying out for a spot in the program. Gardner Volleyball tends to see a lot of girls interested, but the size of the incoming freshman class made for very high competition. The coaches this year made the decision to refrain from any cuts for the senior class. Now, exactly half of the Blazer’s Varsity team are seniors. Like many years before, Gardner Edgerton’s conference is filled with high level teams. With games approaching fast, Coaches and players are putting in maximum effort to be prepared to compete.
“I feel like the coaches have high expectations just because they’re new and everyone expects a fresh start almost. But I also feel like the players have high expectations as well because they also have to fulfill those expectations to be a ‘successful team’,” Senior Jadyn Padilla said. “Everyone is set high this year.”
Thursday, September 1st was Junior Varsity and Varsity’s first games of the season. The Blazers faced Washburn Rural, a well-known competitor from past seasons. In previous years, Gardner Edgerton has had a rollercoaster of wins and losses. With a record of 26-10 for the 2019-2020 season, the team was able to pull through and place third at State. After the worldwide spread of Covid-19, the program had to take many health risks into consideration. Some say it caused a split in the program, others said it brought the teams closer together.
“I am most excited for the relationships I think our teams are gonna have. I think in previous years we’ve had skilled players but we never had the chemistry to pull off a successful season. And like this season I think all our players are really close and we have really high energy so I think our chemistry will pull us above other teams even if our skill may be below some of the best of the best,” Jadyn Padilla said.
On September 1st, Junior Varsity showed out and fought for a win against Washburn Rural going 2-0. The Blazers managed to score 25-15 in the first set, and 25-21 in the second set. The Varsity however went 0-3 in a highly competitive match against the Varsity Washburn Rural team. The girls are continuing to work hard during practices and are excited to get a chance for a rematch in two weeks.
“I think the opportunity to have a lot of new things is exciting and also slightly nerve-racking. The human body is resistant to change but I think our program is very adaptive and deals with adversity very well. As a program, as a coaching staff, and as teams begin to develop we are doing a great job of finding our own and crafting and having the autonomy to create a program that we’re all proud of. I think we’re doing a great job of achieving that,” Head Coach Aryana Crittleton said. “I was really proud of us during the Gatorade scrimmage. We played very much so at the level we practice at. Against our first opponent, you know with it being Washburn Rural I was impressed with how we came out the third set.