Sean Coffinger swears it is all about getting the Desert Vista boys volleyball ready for a match.
The little smirk and some of the locations of the team's traditional warm-up run makes it hard to believe it is all about volleyball and not at least a little about the ladies.
"It helps keep things light and it helps with team bonding," Coffinger said. "Everyone seems to enjoy it."
About a half-hour before the start of every Thunder match, the whole team heads out on to campus - home or away - and basically plays follow the leader in that everyone does whatever Coffinger does while warming up.
Whether it is jump over a bush, reach to touch a street sign, stop by an on-going tennis match to cheer on the Pride or find a convenient place to layout.
"Yeah, we tan around some girls or find the cheerleaders," Coffinger said. "We might make sure there is always a watchful eye."
While it might seem a bit silly, it is hard to argue with the results.
The Thunder entered this week 13-7 overall, but 6-0 in matches that count in the power rankings.
"Believe it or not, they get pretty warmed up and break a sweat," Thunder coach Ryan Tolman said. "They have fun with it and they do it early enough that they get back in plenty of time to get focused on the match.
"If it helps with the team bonding then let them go and have fun."
The Thunder have played well most of the season, winning their pool at the La Jolla (Calif.) Beach City Invitational the last weekend in March, but now that Fiesta Region schedule started earlier this week, they have to be at their best.
"We have to get better at blocking and defense," senior outside hitter Andrew Gott said. "We have been pretty good at shutting down other teams but you can always improve."
Tolman, who led DV to a state title in 2007, took the so-so tournament results, especially the recently completed Brophy Invite, with a grain of salt knowing there other factors involved.
"We were trying different lineups and by the end we were spent," Tolman said. "We haven't had any time to practice because we have had so many matches and tournaments lately. We told them some of the things we needed to adjust but we never had a chance to work on it until this week."
Desert Vista has a tough schedule ahead in the region as they are one of four teams from the Fiesta in the top nine of the Class 5A power rankings.
"As long as we keep beating the teams we are supposed to and get a few upsets then it sets us up for a nice seed," said Coffinger, a rare three-sport athlete. "We have some work to do, but we can definitely keep playing at this level."
Gott, who leads the team in kills at 5-foot-8, said the Thunder has probably surprised some teams thus far.
"Everyone said DV lost all of their seniors, but we have all seniors again," he said. "We have played with each other for a long time and we have a good feel for each other."
The team hopes to get David Wyss, a foreign exchange student from Switzerland, back before long as he was expected to get a soft cast soon on the left arm he broke early in the season.
Add him to an already powerful attack, led by Gott, Coffinger and Nick Galvin and guided by setter Kyle Pittman, and the Thunder could be prepped for a long postseason run.
"The pieces are there," Tolman said. "The schedule is about to get real tough and it is going to make us better. We had some inexperienced seniors, but now they have 20 matches and they know what we expect of them.
"We'll get through these next couple of matches and see where we are at and what we need to do to make sure we are a contender at the end of the season."
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