When Polson High School volleyball coach Lizzy Cox took over for former Lady Pirates’ coach Patty Luetzen, she was very adamant on achieving one goal pertaining to the team’s philosophical approach on offense: play fast.
The idea behind the Lady Pirates having quicker sets is to offset some of the height advantages of conference opponents like Columbia Falls and Whitefish, two teams that have had a stranglehold on Western A the last couple of seasons.
“When we speed up the offense, we have so many more options and when you have perfect passing and can place the volleyball in three different locations, it puts other teams at a disadvantage,” Cox said. “We can locate the ball to the outside and run a quicker offense.”
Cox said it was “exciting” to be able to run a quicker, more efficient offense. Another area that will be a key component to operating a faster-paced offense is the Lady Pirates’ serve-receive efficiency.
“We spend a lot of time practicing and serving at each other,” Cox said. “I think the time(we’ve spent really has shown how much that we’ve worked on that. We started to see improvement in every practice and getting the hitters the sets they need.”
With Polson working on some of the basic components of volleyball, they hope to fuse all the fundamentals together in order to make a postseason run.
“There have been some matches and games that we’ve served really well and we’ve haven’t had very many bad games serving,” Cox said. “We have to get more aggressive on our service and we need to develop the mindset of the team that we have to take care of business. Our team has come to every match with a positive attitude. I think that is exciting and our team has played with that mindset all season.”
The Lady Pirates will now enter the second half of the season with another chance to play all of their conference opponents after they finished the first half of the season. They defeated Browning in five sets 25-15, 21-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-13 Thursday afternoon at Polson Middle School.
“We just have to win obviously more than we did in the first half,” Cox said. “The nice thing about our league is that we all get to the District Tournament and we could lose the rest of the season. We will continue to hone our skills and that way we will be ready by the time we make it into Districts.”
Cox has acknowledged that virtually every player on her team has showcased significant improvement since the start of the regular season. One player in particular that she said will be a key component in building her team’s success as they continue to prepare for the second half of the conference run is Mikaela DuCharme.
“DuCharme has played in our middle blocker position and in our back row and has just done an awesome job,” Cox said. “She is one of our captains and just has really kept a positive atmosphere. She has helped some of our younger players in keeping (their spirits) lifted up.”
Another player that has continued to flourish is setter Shea McGuiness.
“Shea is our middle setter and she has connected beautifully and is doing so nice on picking up those middle sets,” Cox said. “She’s been doing great. You would have never known she hasn’t played in the back row in four years and has really added an element of serve-receive to her game. She’s done an awesome job.”
The Lady Pirates, who have virtually not had a home game because of the infrastructure issues at Linderman Elementary that began last December, hope to continue to improve as they move through the second half of the season.
“I think it is all going to really start to click (for us),” Cox said. “Things just kind of reset and brought it all together for the game. When it comes together, I am hoping we will just keep working on it, and by the second half of this season we will only get better.”