Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Clay Bryant took a break from volleyball after last season’s defeat in the playoffs.
The head coach of Fox Creek’s volleyball team is rejuvenated for this season after his relaxing break and is returning a loaded team.
“Just to get away from the game for a little bit, this year I didn’t coach club ball, I just took a little bit of a mental break,” he said. “It’s taxing on you, staying on it for a long period of time. Once you come back to it, you realize how much you love the game and love coaching it.”
Returning to Bryant’s team are four seniors and a majority of his starting lineup from a season ago.
“We’re excited about the whole group,” he said. “All of the starters coming back, which is the four seniors plus Ashley (Roberts), and we’ve got two transfers that are juniors. So, we’re heavy on upperclassmen; I’m excited about having ladies that know the game, whether they played it here or at another school.”
Having experienced players on the floor helps Bryant as a coach, because his players have been in most situations and know how to correct mistakes.
“The experience means that we can make adjustments on the floor very easily,” he said of his team. “While we’re playing, I don’t have to call a timeout to talk to a player – I can look out there and say something simple and they understand the concepts and can apply them.”
The Fox Creek volleyball team prides itself on playing like a family, something Bryant and his players called a strength of the team.
“Most of us are best friends, we hang out with each other on and off the court,” Kaley Turner, a senior for Fox Creek, said. “We hang out at school and have a great connection on the court. I believe that to play well in volleyball, you have to be in it mentally and play for each other, not just for yourself.”
Bryant said the biggest obstacle remaining for this team is to come together and play like a family, which will lead to improved play in other areas.
“We’re a family first volleyball team, we believe in being a family and playing like it — loving each other and playing for the person next to you,” he said. “That’s a big part of our game. We’re also big on defense – we have to make sure we’re moving our feet and are getting to our defensive home to play defense in the right spots. We’ve got to trust each other and trust that we’re going to take care of our responsibilities, so that nobody is trying to do something they don’t need to do.”
The expectation for the Predators is to do as well — or better — than last year, which ended with a deep playoff run and a 15-5 record.
“At the end of the year, our main goal is to work toward state,” Rachel Simmons, a key returner for Fox Creek, said. “We want to make a deep run into the playoffs.”
Fox Creek will begin its season with a game against McCormick on Sept. 9.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.