This time last year, Toll Gate wasn’t sure it had enough players for a boys’ volleyball team. But the Titans made it work and actually delivered a solid five-win season.
This year, the Titans are facing a different kind of challenge. The school’s main gym was damaged by a leak during the winter and won’t be ready for the spring season. The Titans can practice in the upper gym, but it’s looking like they’ll have to play all their matches on the road.
It’s not an ideal situation, but head coach Claire Baggesen thinks the team may just handle it like they handled last year’s challenges.
“It’s the first time in 20 years of coaching that I haven’t had a gym,” she said. “It’s different, but with every little challenge that is presented to a team, sometimes that makes them come together even more. That’s what’s happening for us. We’re taking it one day at a time.”
And they’re focusing not on what they don’t have, but on what they do have – a solid group of returning players who are ready to continue the building process. While the Titans lost standout Nick Carr to graduation, they have four players back from last year and a good turnout of new players.
That’s a welcome change.
“It’s still not as large as I would like, but it’s a solid group,” Baggesen said. “We’ll do the best with what we’ve got, and we’re still expecting some more kids to come out and join us.”
Leading the way are the returning players – George Greenhalgh, Dimitri Mylers, Jose Javier and Matt Davis. They were thrown into the fire last year when the Titans needed all the bodies they could get. The byproduct was a full season of much-needed experience, and they’ll carry that with them into the 2013 season.
“They’re a good group,” Baggesen said. “They’ve improved since the beginning of last season. We should be good to go with them.”
New players will fill out the rest of the lineup. They have varying levels of volleyball experience, but Baggesen likes what she’s seen in early practices.
“So far, so good,” she said. “They’re doing what they need to do. They’re working hard and they’re catching on quick. They’re where they need to be right now.”
For everybody – returning players and new players – the focus is the same.
“With this group, our goal is to have good, solid skills,” Baggesen said. “That’s our biggest focus. We want to have those skills that let the hard work show.”
In general, the Titans still aren’t in an ideal spot – especially since they’ll have to be road warriors – but Baggesen feels they’ll be in the mix if they continue to work hard.
“I think it’ll be a solid, competitive team,” she said. “Where we wind up depends on how hard we work and how much we improve.”
The Titans will open the season next Wednesday with a 5:30 p.m. match at Mt. Pleasant.