Aug. 25, 2021 — In the past week and a half, Mapleton’s Lady Sailors have been getting their volleyball season going with returning coach Molly Dooley steering the ship. This year, Mapleton has a much larger team, and having lost only three seniors to graduation in June, the team is looking solid.
“We started daily doubles last week, so we've been doing double practices every other day [since Aug. 16],” said Dooley. “We've just been working a lot on conditioning, making sure that we're getting ready after having the summer off and not touching the volleyball in a little while. Of course, it's not as long as usual because of the weird spring season, but we've been spending a lot of time getting back used to it.”
According to Dooley, the team is spending a great deal of time focusing on fundamentals in preparation for the season.
“We’re really working on getting our passes down and controlling those, and getting a lot of service work in to make sure that we get those important points,” said the coach. “We've been working a lot on the basics and getting our conditioning up — a lot of running, a lot of core [work]. We've also gotten started practicing our rotations to make sure we have those ready, because we have a game in six days. So, we’re trying to get those nailed down, because it takes a little bit [of time] to get those rotations practiced and into our brains.”
The team is scheduled to play its first game on Thursday, Aug. 26.
Dooley has been testing the waters with different rotations to find out the best fits for her players.
“I'm hoping to have one set by (Aug. 23),” she said. “I'm very excited because we have 11 girls on the team this year, so I can do a lot more with focused and targeted positions. We’ve been getting into what the middle hitter does, what the outside hitter does, what the libero does.”
Fortunately, this year’s team comes in on the mature side, with six out of 11 of the players being seniors. Dooley has several players who look strong as leaders for the Lady Sailors.
“Opal Burruss has been killing it with her hits lately, and her serving has improved so much,” the coach said. “I think she is going to be one of our more consistent servers, along with Summer Flansberg. I'm planning on using Summer as our libero, so she's going to be getting a lot of those digs in the back row, and she's got really powerful serve and it's very consistent, too. So, I'm excited to see how she does in that position and being the leader in the back row.”
Dooley also has to replace her setter, who graduated in June, but she already has some good prospects.
“We have two freshmen in particular who are stepping up in that setting position, Helen Burruss, who's Opal sister, and Morgan Milbrett,” said the coach. “I'm very excited for those two, because they've been really working hard and getting a lot of reps in. I'm looking forward to seeing how they're going to do being so young, but I feel like they already have a really good sense of the leadership and the gameplay that goes behind being a setter, so I'm excited to see that grow.”
In addition, Dooley has players returning from the year before last who will offer a great deal of help to the team.
“We'll have three sisters that just moved back from Wyoming this year, Lexi and Micayla Flansberg and Tanae Robbins, and they are all going to be on the team, too,” she said.
With regard to this year’s competition, aside from a few team changes within the league, it will be much the same as last year. However, one bonus for Mapleton is the fact that they have many non-league games on the schedule this year to round out the season and give the girls more experience on the court.
“Last year, we didn't really get to have any non-league games, because it was very short and hurried,” Dooley said. “[This year], I feel like we’ve got a pretty good non-league schedule, and we're playing quite a few teams outside of our league. So, I'm very excited to see how that helps us prepare for when we start league play.”
The girls have been preparing for their first games of the season, and they start by playing two games at home on Thursday, Aug. 26. First, they play C.S. Lewis Academy at 3 p.m., followed by another game against Pacific at 6 p.m.
“Both teams are out of our league, so we’ll see how we go against other teams,” said Dooley.
The Lady Sailors also play a tournament at C.S. Lewis on Saturday, Aug. 28, beginning at 12:50 p.m.