PLAS volleyball improves

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Pike Liberal Arts volleyball team under first-year head coach Kellen Shirley has gotten off to a slow start in 2015, but progress has been made.

“We are making huge strides and definitely playing together better,” Shirley said. “Putting it all together and playing together as a team has been difficult.”

With a new coaching system in play and so many young players on the roster, there has been a tough transition of what the Patriots are learning during practice and what they take from it once games begin. The reason for the inconsistent play may be the result Kellen implementing a new strategy that she is confident will prove to be successful.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“None of them have really experienced it before. They grasped the concept of it really quickly,” Shirley said. “Now its all about the execution and doing it and learning it. That comes through practice and there is nothing else you can do but do it everyday and let them get exposed to it.”

Shirley believes the more the players are accustomed to doing the things that are being implemented, the quicker it will become second nature.

The players aren’t the only one’s learning the nuances of the sport of volleyball. Shirley is learning the game more and more everyday and while she is teaching the game to her players, the players in turn are teaching her about coaching the game.

“You don’t really realize as a player how much a coach really does,” Shirley said. “Now that I can see it from this side it is a whole new perspective for me. I think I am learning just as much from them as they are learning from me.”

One of the things Shirley has realized in her short stint as the head coach is that you have to teach the game differently to each player. Not one person learns the game the same way as the next.

“You really have to get to know each player to be able to influence them and help them grow,” Shirley said. “I knew that, but doing it now first hand is vital to understanding your team and to be able to push 12 different players with 12 different personalities. You almost have to attack them one on one and then together it becomes a unit.”

Shirley has seen some positives signs in practice that would warrant success in the near future. Things like hard work and leadership are something the Patriots hope will lead to success.

“I have been able to tell that there have been a few girls that have really stepped up versus the beginning of the season, when they were waiting for someone else to step up,” Shirley said. “Now they are trying to help their teammates. Whenever we make those mistakes they are going to own up to it themselves or they encourage the person who made the mistake.”

During practice both the junior varsity and varsity teams practice together and the hope is that the hard work and knowledge of the game translates to the younger players.

“It really stretches the JV to have to practice at that level,” Shirley said. “It’s good for them because they can see on the side of the net that this is how it’s supposed to be done and what it’s supposed to look like.”

With many changes in the volleyball program at PLAS, Shirley knows everything will eventually come together when the time is right.

“I’m looking for consistency. We need to be able to execute something the right way and be able to do it again and again. There is always going to be times when you mess up,” Shirley said. “It’s all about staying consistent and being positive after those mistakes, that’s what makes the difference.”

The Lady Patriots played against Fort Dale in Greenville on Tuesday and got beaten bringing their record to 1-7 on the season. The Patriots will be back in action Thursday against Escambia in Atmore starting with JV team at 3:30 p.m.