Of the many lessons she learned during her first season as a head volleyball coach, the one that resonated with Skye Carrasquillo was adapting to adversity.
Carrasquillo got a first-hand glimpse of the effect an inopportune injury can have on a team. When senior Haylee Kell went down with an injury in the decisive third set of the district semifinals, Houston struggled mightily. The Lady Tigers dropped eight of the next 10 points as their season came to an abrupt end.
Carrasquillo doesn’t want a repeat of the conclusion to the 2011 season. That’s why she is focused on teaching her players multiple positions and roles to adapt to any situation in 2012.
“Adaptability is the key for us,” said Carrasquillo, who led HHS to a 13-17-2 mark last year. “I don’t want people set in one position. We learned from last year that if we are, we tend to fall apart when bad things happen.”
Houston will return all but two starters –– Kell and all-conference libero Lauren Hoover –– when it opens the season Tuesday at Licking. Five of the team’s 13 players are seniors.
Carrasquillo said she has drawn on last year’s experiences –– especially shuffling players in the most important match of the season to compensate for an injury –– as she begins her second season.
“That first year is chaotic,” she said. “The more prepared I am, the more prepared our team will be. If I can put them in situations they might see in games, they will be prepared when they see it.”
Seniors Alexa Ichord and Amber Sillyman will anchor the team as setters. Nora Dixon, a sophomore, and Camryn Scheets, a freshman, are also setters.
Ichord earned second team all-conference honors last year while leading the Lady Tigers in blocks (16) and aces (15). Sillyman had a team-high 92 assists to earn honorable mention all-conference recognition.
Sarah Garrett is back at middle blocker. She will share time with Megan Silveus, who joined the rotation last season as a freshman, and Sarah Kelley.
The remaining players on the varsity roster have positions, but Carrasquillo stressed they will likely play multiple roles. Haley Kelley, Sydney Cremer, Kylee Elmore and Reanna Craig are outside hitters. Hayley Walker is a defensive specialist, and junior Desiree Venable transitions from outside hitter –– where she led the team with 53 kills and was named honorable mention all-conference –– to libero.
Through offseason workouts and summer camps, Carrasquillo said she has stressed team building and positive attitudes with her players.
“I feel like the team has turned the corner,” she said. “They’ve taken the responsibility to make the team better. You see more enthusiasm and positive attitudes.”
When it comes to play on the court, Carrasquillo said reducing serving errors has been a focus of the preseason. She also stressed each player giving a maximum effort at all times.
Carrasquillo said the team hasn’t set goals for the 2012 season yet. What she wants from this year’s team is a drive to be better.
“We need to take the next step to the next level and not be okay with just being good,” Carrasquillo said. “Good is not enough. We want to achieve greatness.”
Aug. 28 at Licking 6 p.m.
Aug. 30 at Cuba 6 p.m.
Sept. 8 Branson Tournament
Sept. 10 Licking 6 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Conway 6 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Ava 6 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Willow Springs 6 p.m.
Sept. 22 Rolla Tournament
Sept. 24 at Eminence 6 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Salem 6 p.m.
Sept. 27 Mountain Grove 6 p.m.
Sept. 29 Waynesville JV Tournament
Oct. 2 West Plains 6 p.m.
Oct. 6 Licking Tournament
Oct. 8 Winona 6 p.m.
Oct. 9 Thayer 6 p.m.
Oct. 11 Liberty 6 p.m.
Oct. 15 at Summersville 6 p.m.
Oct. 16 Cabool 6 p.m.
Oct. 20 West Plains JV Tournament