Adaptability on the court

Published 9:44 am Thursday, August 31, 2017

A young Fuqua School varsity girls volleyball team is looking to develop quickly in 2017 as it presses on without six starters from last year’s squad.

Lady Falcons Head Coach Matthew Houchins noted that three of the starters graduated. Two of the starters transferred to St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville, including Ellie Vick, who was a first team all-conference selection as a sophomore and junior.

The sixth starter that the coach reported his team will be without is junior Regan Ware, who suffered a torn ACL and meniscus during the team’s scrimmage against Randolph-Henry High School on Aug. 22.

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“I believe Regan, an all-conference selection as a freshman and sophomore, was poised for a breakout season and to be one of the best players in the conference,” Houchins  said.

Fuqua’s active roster features two seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.

“I expect there to, early on, be a little bit of a learning curve since the team is in a rebuilding phase and different players are having to step up and fill bigger roles than they and I thought they would have to at this stage,” the coach said. “However, I think this team can be really successful even though we might not have the offensive weapons like we did in years before.”

Last year, the Lady Falcons finished with an overall record of 10-9, including a 7-3 mark in the Blue Ridge Conference.

Fuqua advanced as far as the semifinals in the conference tournament, falling at that level to top-seeded North Cross School in what Houchins noted was a highly-competitive four sets.

The coach said he sees senior outside hitter Alexa Marzloff and senior libero Jordyn Harris as “big-time leaders for us.”

“They were unanimous picks as captains and have been playing the game at a high level for a while now even though they may not have garnered as much attention in earlier seasons,” he said. “Both are extremely good passers and defenders who are now having to step up and be the vocal leaders that the team needs.”

He added that junior  Hannah-Gray Schmidt has taken her game to a new level. He said that he thinks she “can be one of the best setters in the conference if she keeps improving at the rate she has.”

Because of the need to infuse the team with new players, there are several that could prove to be up-and-comers.

“We’ve had to pull three freshmen up from (junior varsity) to additionally play varsity due to injuries, but they’re adjusting very fast to the higher level of play,” Houchins said. “I think it’s going to take some time for them to adapt, but (they) are going to really benefit our team by the middle of our season.”

The coach cited minimizing errors and being a strong defensive team as the keys to the Lady Falcons’ success this year.

“We are a little undersized and inexperienced compared to prior years, but if we can be strong in the ‘serve and pass’ game, we are going to win a lot of games,” he said. “There’s a lot of new faces on the court, so it’s going to be really important to find our team chemistry early on and for some of the girls who have been ‘role players’ before to step up and run the show.”

Fuqua was scheduled to start its season Thursday on the road against Richmond Christian School.

Next week, the Lady Falcons travel to Richmond to face The Steward School on Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. Their home opener is Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against Roanoke Catholic School.