After a difficult 6-20 year, there is reason to be optimistic about Chickasha volleyball.
With only two seniors departing the team, head coach Nancy Waters brings back the vast majority of her players with an extra season of play under their belts. It makes for a solid base to build toward an improved 2013, but it also means previous excuses are now out of bounds.
"We talk about that all of the time," Water said. "This is our time. Last year, we used inexperience. We can't use that this year."
The Lady Chicks have spent the summer trying to shake that young-team mindset, playing 17 matches and practicing since July 25. In the squad is Chloe Reyes, who as a sophomore last year made all-conference first team. Rory Troub, playing at libber this season, and Alei Gann, taking up the setter role, were both named all-conference honorable mention.
The recognition must be pleasing, given that Waters admits her team were often intimidated by their more experienced opponents last fall. Their last game of the 2012 season was a loss to Christian Heritage, which at the time was ranked number one in the state.
"We went into matches and we were scared," Waters said. "We were so young last year and we played a lot of freshmen and sophomores. When they play juniors and seniors, you're at a disadvantage."
So Waters has spent the summer instilling the characteristics of a seasoned team into each individual player. In volleyball, where the play moves so quick that players must envision what they're going to do with the ball well in advance of when it actually happens, cohesion is not just a key; it's the only way to do things.
"Communication, more than anything, is what we've worked on," Waters said. "That and movement."
This 2013 Lady Chicks squad has been playing together for at least three years, some even more than that. Their skill level should now be on par with some of the top programs in Oklahoma, Waters said.
"We've had this group since seventh grade," Waters said. "Their skill level is getting up there to the level it can compete with some of the better programs in the state. We should be a lot more competitive with the tougher teams this year."
The Lady Chicks start the season on Aug. 15 with a home game against Union City at 4 p.m.