Fred Mann and Ryan Tolman entered the final week of the boys volleyball regular season a tad bit frustrated.
On the surface that’s probably not a good sign with the postseason starting on Saturday, but really it is more of an indication what is possible in their minds.
Desert Vista entered the week 10-5 in power ranking games and Mountain Pointe was 9-6. Both programs seemed assured of a place in the 24-team field entering Thursday’s regular season finals, but each veteran coach knows the teams haven’t played to their full potential just yet.
“When you know you can play at a high level that is when it is frustrating,” said Tolman, who is in his ninth year coaching at Desert Vista. “When you know you have potential to get there it is tough. This has been one of the most frustrating years in the nine years I have been coaching because I just don’t know what team is going to show up on any given night.”
Pride coach Fred Mann has had similar feelings even after they beat Desert Vista in five games last week.
“We’ve been struggling,” Mann said afterward. “I see what I see in practice so I have high expectations. I want to see them play like they practice. There have been times where we have done it, but we haven’t been able to string together long stretches.
“We’ve had flashes of really good play here and there, but not enough.”
So what needs to be done to make sure these teams are competing at the level needed to make an extended run into the single-elimination state tournament?
“It’s all about our energy,” Desert Vista senior captain Stoan McNeal said. “When we are all in it we play at a different level. We lost a little bit of focus (in back-to-back losses last week). Volleyball is all about momentum and when you make plays you build energy.”
McNeal is placing responsibility on himself along with senior captains Marshall Rooney and Paul Rogers to make sure Tolman can count on the team’s best effort.
“It is up to us to get it done,” he said. “We have to get the bench involved more and keep everyone focused. If we can get that going we are a different team and we’ve shown we can play with anyone.”
Entering this week’s action Desert Vista has been able to knock off Hamilton in matches that count in the power points.
The Thunder close out the regular season by hosting Hamilton on Thursday. It will be the perfect test to see if Desert Vista is really ready for a postseason run.
“They are a great team and we beat them,” Tolman said. “With the right matchups we can play with just about anyone. It depends how we are playing on any given night.”
So until then Holman, and Mann alike, will be trying to make sure these teams are ready to go once the second season starts.
“Our biggest fight this year is consistency,” Tolman said. “There are some moments where we look really good and then other times we look so inexperienced but we are almost done with the season. If you aren’t playing like an experienced player by now, I don’t know what to say. So we are still trying to find out how to be more consistent every match.
“It is a work in progress and once we get there, hopefully very soon, we can compete at a high level.”
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