By Brandon HENSLEY
The Lady Falcons open the Pacific League portion of their volleyball season today at Hoover High School. While the Lady Falcons are most likely not expected to win league, new head coach Kevin Boyke likes his team’s chemistry and commitment to get better every day.
Boyke inherited a squad that went 9-12 last season, including 4-8 in league, and missed the playoffs. Arcadia, which went undefeated in league and reached the CIF Division 2A semifinals, and Burbank, which reached the 2A quarterfinals, are expected to compete for the league crown.
The Falcons, meanwhile, might be a little too inexperienced to be thinking about competing with the likes of the Apaches and Bulldogs. The team, which placed sixth in league in 2014, has only four seniors on its 15-player roster.
“They’re really hungry for the extra knowledge and training to be better,” Boyke said. “What we need now is experience. We’re a really young team. Most of our players do not play Club. Each match we’ve played has been a great learning experience.”
Boyke cited a match against Carson recently that gives him a positive outlook on the season. The Falcons lost the first set 25-10. Boyke wanted them to at least reach 12 points in the next set, but CV ended up winning the next two sets altogether (they did lose the match, 3-2).
The captains this year are senior Paige Baker and junior Elise Boyle, both setters. Boyke said the players picked the captains, and made the right choices.
“They picked the two who got along the best with everyone, but kept it about the team, about the work that we’re doing,” he said.
Offensively, the team will look to junior Patty Kerman on the right side.
“The one we rely on constantly to score points is Patty,” Boyke said.
Since the Falcons might be undermanned against the top teams in league, the strategy is to improve on team defense, control the ball and be smart with their attack.
“If we can control all the slow- and medium-speed balls, if we can control that in rhythm and get a good attack off of that, that’s a huge advantage for us,” Boyke said.
Hoover was only 2-12 in league, finishing in seventh place behind CV. This could be a good day to get off to a good start. Regardless, Boyke says the chemistry on this club is a strong suit, and that players have kept playing hard all pre-season, even when outgunned.
“I want us to finish the year with that sort of fight, no matter what’s going on. It’s a constant optimism I want to maintain,” he said.