By Arion Armeniakos
Special to Las Positas Athletics
The Las Positas College women's volleyball team enjoyed a promising premiere season last fall, especially considering the team was formed in a matter of weeks. Now, with Season 2 just around the corner and a real structured plan in place, it is all about getting better.
A necessity for every new team is to put a reliable coach in place to bring the program forward. Las Positas did that by hiring Tracee Byrd, an avid student of the game with over 10 years of coaching experience. Then, it was all about bringing in the right players, and that was going to require some patience.
"Last year we were really scrambling to form the team, we faced a lot of challenges," Byrd said of the debut season. "A lot of the girls had conflicts where they had to miss practices for class and work, and half of our team was coming over from Chabot.
"This year, our whole roster is here at Las Positas, and we have been able to arrange their schedules around the team so that they can be at every practice and game. This has allowed us to improve so much and really come together," she continued.
Despite many scheduling challenges last season, the Hawks still finished with a winning record of 10-8. Now, with all the players having fully committed to the program and some new additions, the mood is even better this time around.
"We have a really solid squad," Byrd said. "We have six returners and four new additions. We worked hard all spring and summer, and we are poised to enter this season with a strong group and make some waves in our conference."
Las Positas (2-2) will play its much-anticipated season home opener against Napa Valley at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
Sophomore middle blocker Sondra Montague has praised the team's preparation period and shares the excitement and optimism of her teammates about the new season.
"Spring training and preseason was a lot of fun," Montague said. "I think we are going to learn a lot more next season. We lost some players but there are also a lot of exciting new faces coming in."
When asked about what it will take to improve on last season, Montague emphasized positivity and not allowing their heads to drop when the going gets tough.
"I think we just need to keep working on keeping our energy up and staying positive, because when we let ourselves get down, that's when we lose games," Montague said.
So far, so good. The Hawks went 2-2 in two preseason tournaments at the end of August, including bouncing back from two losses with wins over Porterville and Mendocino, both by 3-0 scores. Taylor Cruz and Savannah Symonds combined for 23 kills against Mendocino and Montague added eight kills. Sydney Rhodas had 17 assists and Rachel Dayton had 14 assists and five kills. Against Porterville, Cruz powered up for 17 kills.
Byrd was happy with her team's performances, noting that the Hawks needed both days to learn how best to work together and then start clicking for the curtain raiser at home.
"Day one was definitely a learning experience," Byrd said. "We were figuring out which lineups are working and getting some first game jitters out. By day two, we really started connecting out there.
"Our goal this year is to make the playoffs, and after all the hard work that the girls have put in it will be exciting to see what the team brings on our home opener this Wednesday," she continued.