With the final seconds on the game clock ticking, the Cedar Park Volleyball team’s bench is a scene that is filled with excitement. At the end of last season the team knocked out Leander and earned the right to go to playoffs, one of the biggest accomplishments a team can make. Although the team didn’t go as far as they would’ve liked, they’re back with a new motto: new season, same reason.
This season the girls have a very talented lineup with 8 seniors to lead them. The girls feel that they have what it takes to surpass what they did last year in the playoffs. Haelee Horne is one of them, after this season she hopes to attend a Division Two University to play College Volleyball. Along with the rest of the team, she has faith the team can do anything they put their minds to.
“The key to our success is going to be playing with heart. We have so much talent and if we can put it together and play with heart we will be unstoppable,” Horne said.
Last season the girls finished with an overall record of 10-11. This year the girls have already exceeded that and are currently standing at 19-10. If the team keeps heading this direction they stand a strong chance of going deeper in to the playoffs. The girls are receiving a very needed confidence boost and are using it to their advantage. They believe that because the chemistry they built last season overflowed to this season. In their opinion that’s a strong reason why they are so good.
“Our team works really well together, and we all get along. With that holding us together, we feel we have amazing potential.” Cilla Sutfin, junior said.
Potential doesn’t always mean success. In order to ensure the team’s success the girls are being pushed to new levels. Head Coach Rebekah Almanza has been working with her team to improve their skills from all angles. This year, Almanza added an extra day for the girls to work out. On Saturday’s the girls attend vigorous workouts that make them stronger in every aspect of the game. It’s constantly reiterated in their heads that if they want to win a championship they have to practice and play like champions.
“On Saturdays the team does more weight room, and cross fit exercises to help strengthen their muscles. This requires major stamina to finish. The girls have to push themselves to jump higher, run faster and hit harder. They all cheer and help each other get through it.” Almanza said.
The girls do realize that, and they have started the season off with a new attitude. They want to win a championship, and even though the workouts kill them, they work together and keep each other grounded. One thing that gets the girls pumped is a certain cheer the girls refer to as the “pump up cheer.” It’s a cheer where Isabella Arcidiacono, senior, rounds up the team, stands in the middle of them and just “pumps” the girls up.
“The pump up cheer just gets us all rallied up and ready to take on whatever team is in front of us. We forget about everything distracting us, and prepare to give it our all, and play for each other. It makes us realize it’s time to leave it all on the court.” Taylor Teets, junior said.
This season the girls rely on everybody on the team. Within the team everyone has a part to do, and they all have to be ready to be called on at any given moment. They’ve worked hard to make sure that does happen, everyone on the team from the players who keep stats to the ones who start work hard. With their new goals engraved in their minds they know that not one player can let them down.
“This season everyone’s a weapon. We’re not just stuck with one rotation. Our bench is extremely deep, and everyone throughout the team understands their roles better.” Coach Almanza said.
The team knows that together they have to play with heart, and leave nothing behind. With that comes personal effort. On their own girls make sure they never give up an opportunity that will better themselves and in the run better the team. On off days the girls continue their training and exercises.
“Personally, I’m trying to do my job by being a leader and being disciplined. My goal is to give everything I have for this next month and to look back on this season and not have any regrets,” Horne said.
The seniors this season are a major key to the team’s success. The younger girls on the team look up to them for many things; including advice on and off the court, and are constantly watching them for tips on how to improve themselves. They’ve seen everything, and don’t fumble under pressure. They try and teach the developing girls all they’ve learned and they try and teach from mistakes they’ve made.
“I expect a lot out of our seniors. They make great decisions and have an amazing grasp of the game. We’re blessed to have them,” Coach Almanza said.
The chemistry the girls have stirred up is mixed with good communication. The girls have transferred the communication they have off the court and put it on the court. During the games they communicate extremely well and all together that’s a reason the girls get the job done. By talking to each other throughout the game they can study the other team’s position and read what they’re planning to do.
All in all the girls just love to play the game. It doesn’t matter how far they go, or if they win a championship. They’re always proud of themselves no matter what. Although, in the past it hasn’t always been this way the girls and Coach Almanza have made it their duty to have fun a long with working hard. They’ve come to the conclusion that if they are not having fun playing they won’t win. Individually they’ve swallowed their pride and focused more on the team. They’ve stopped and complaining, and starting competing.
“This year, the coaching staff and the team wanted to make sure that we all had fun along with the work we put in. Although they are competitive, they do put themselves aside and they understand their roles more and more everyday. They do what’s best for the team in the end, I think that will be the major deal breaker to how well we do,” Almanza said.