Red Devils ready for inaugural season
Most of Maplesville’s volleyball players have never played the sport before.
Just as significant, though, is that they’ve never played together before.
Teaching teamwork is one of the aspects of the game coach Kathy Plumb is finding difficult as she prepares the Red Devils for their inaugural season.
Because of the team’s inexperience—only one player, senior Courtney Baugh, has played organized volleyball before—Plumb has spent more time in practice going over fundamental skills.
“We’ve got to build on our basics before we can start to put together a game plan,” Plumb said.
But that approach came at the expense of the players learning how their role is a piece of an overall team effort—where teammates are going to be on the court and how everyone’s jobs vary.
As the season nears—Maplesville will play its first matches beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday at Isabella—the Devils have spent more time scrimmaging, and a practice game win over fellow start-up program West Blocton on Aug. 2 did wonders.
“We were riding sky high coming back,” Plumb said. “It’s amazing what a win will do for their self-confidence.
“They played more as a team. They realized that each one has a responsibility, a job to do. When they did that, we were successful.”
The Devils might learn to lean on each other, but they will not enjoy the support of a home crowd this season. Maplesville will play all its matches on the road.
“Feeling the home crowd behind you, cheering you on—it’s just not an experience they’ll have this year…but I expect them to overcome it,” Plumb said.
The team’s backbone will be its senior class, players who knew they would face the hardships participating in a first-year program but not reap the rewards of future success. Yet those seniors—Alisha Blackmon, Lauren Niswander, Shaian Price and Baugh, who played volleyball at Shelby Academy several years ago and so is Maplesville’s only experienced player—have made a commitment to the program and their younger teammates.
“Our captains have stepped up and taken ownership of the team,” Plumb said. “The juniors have learned greatly from that. We’ve gained several new students, and just to watch them pick them up and bring them along and show them, ‘Here’s how you do that.’”