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SHS volleyball swinging away

After beginning its 2012 season earlier this week, the Statesboro volleyball team is looking to make some more strides in its second year of existence.

There are still plenty of growing pains lying in wait for the Lady Blue Devils, but they have come a long, long way in just over a year’s time.

"We still have a whole lot to learn," said SHS coach Bob Massee. "But what impresses me is the spirit and the motivation of these girls. Every day, they bring an intensity to practice and they are all like sponges in terms of absorbing the information and lessons that we’re trying to teach."

The sport has wasted no time in gaining popularity throughout the student body. Over 40 girls showed up to tryouts last week with 24 filling out this season’s squad. The anticipation for the 2012 season showed itself long before Statesboro opened its doors for the new school year as Massee saw the weight room constantly filled with girls looking to get stronger before tryouts.

"That’s the dedication that I’m talking about," said Massee. "All of those workouts were voluntary and we had a great turnout at every one of them."

The 2012 team is in shape and ready to go, but nailing down some of the finer aspects of the game in an ongoing process.

Before the Devils’ inaugural season, Massee says that none of his players had ever played on an organized team. Starting from scratch, the Devils have had to cover everything from rules, to positioning, to basic strategy.

"It’s a little bit of a change of pace for me as a coach," said Massee, who is an accomplished beach volleyball player, a former captain of the Georgia Southern club volleyball team, and a former assistant for GSU’s women’s team. "We had to start with the absolute basics. Footwork, positioning, how to hit the ball. Now we’re working on passing and our rotations. We’re just learning little by little each day."

Concepts as simple as serving and setting may look easy enough, but they still require plenty of practice and experience. Massee has stressed to his team that they continue to focus on the fundamentals and put their practice to work in games, focusing more on steady improvement than on what the scoreboard may read.

Despite the steep learning curve, the Devils were able to notch a lone victory last season. This time around, they are aiming a bit higher.

"I think that we should win more matches this season, for sure," said Massee. "I have high expectations for our team. I don’t want to put too much pressure on a team that is still doing a lot of learning, but I see the potential that we have. That’s why I want to push us hard."

Statesboro gets another shot at grabbing its first win of the season this afternoon as the Devils travel to Hephzibah. Statesboro takes on Hephzibah at 6 p.m. and plays Liberty County immediately after.

On Thursday, Aug. 23, the Devils will host their first home matches of the season, taking on Hephzibah and Butler.


Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.