The Warwick Vets girls’ volleyball team doesn’t have a lot of varsity experience, but with one week of practice in the books, head coach Jean McGarry has seen a quality that might be just as important.
The Hurricanes are ready to work.
“We’ve got a lot of girls who show up every day and work hard every day,” McGarry said. “We’re young and inexperienced, but I’ve got a lot of hard-working younger girls who are moving up the ranks and providing a lot of good competition for the upper-class players, who if they want to earn a spot, are going to have to do some work. So that’s nice. They’re pushing each other to be better, and I think that’s going to help us in the long run.”
It should set the stage for another solid season. Since going 14-2 in 2006, the ’Canes haven’t been in the upper echelon again, but they’ve held steady, staying competitive and consistently earning playoff berths.
While this year’s team will look a lot different than last year’s squad – which went 7-7 and made the playoffs – the ’Canes are optimistic that they’ll find similar, or even better results.
“I’m fairly confident,” McGarry said. “They’re learning and they’re very open to learning. That’s a plus.”
And the ’Canes won’t be starting completely from scratch. Senior Amanda Graves returns for another season as the varsity setter. She played there all last year after earning the starting job midway through her sophomore year.
She’ll be a leader both on the court and off.
“We’ve got good leadership in our juniors and seniors, especially Amanda,” McGarry said. “I think she’s kind of a role model for a lot of the kids because she works so hard and she just plugs really hard at what we’re doing all the time. I think that’s going to be huge for us.”
Junior Alyssa McCracken is also back in the lineup. As a sophomore last year, she was a key contributor at the net.
“She’s come a long way just growing and with her experience,” McGarry said.
Beyond Graves and McCracken, the ’Canes have a few other players who have seen varsity action here and there, but for the most part, it’s an inexperienced group.
But there’s potential.
“It’s going to be a good well-rounded team, and we’re going to have options, which is nice for a change,” McGarry said.
Senior Sarah Farrell will likely claim an outside hitter spot, while sophomore Elizabeth Iadevaia has moved up from the JV squad and is already penciled in to play all-around. Junior Sabrina Spiver, who saw some time last year, will be an asset whether she’s setting or playing in the back row. Sophomore Shelby Mahoney is also in the mix as a setter.
Seniors Cassidy Plouffe and Nina Soupharath, juniors Rebecca Beer and Megan Macrae and sophomore Jessica Tyree are also pushing for time at various spots.
“We’re pretty comfortable,” McGarry said. “We haven’t decided if we’re sticking with one-setter system or not, and we’ve got a couple of different choices for libero. We’re still working out some of those kinds of kinks.”
The ’Canes scrimmaged Barrington on Tuesday and showed some good things, including a surprisingly strong attack. Ultimately, McGarry thinks defense will be the team’s biggest strength.
“Again, I don’t think our strength will be in the frontcourt, but I will say, that even with the inexperience, I saw some real positive things at the net yesterday,” she said. “I have a feeling once we get going, our strength will be probably from the baseline, with defense and passing.”
However it shakes out, the ’Canes are excited to get going and eager to add another good season to their history.
“Every year, our first goal is to play well and make the playoffs,” McGarry said. “You want to be there. That’s why you do this. You want to go to the dance. Our first goal is to try to play well one game at a time, one match at a time and try to make it to that playoff round. I do seeing us doing that, but I also see it’s going to take a lot on their part and on my part to get us there.”