When an injury happens to a heavily counted on player it can sometimes cause double trouble.
First, the team has to adjust to playing without the player, and then when the team finally finds a rhythm the player returns and the adjustment starts all over again.
The Horizon Honors girls volleyball team has been through such a period this season, but it hasn’t stopped the Eagles from being in position for the Division IV postseason with a 16-10 overall record.
But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been frustrating.
“We’ve had a couple of different transitions this year,” seventh-year coach Liv Peace said. “We missed a couple of players early in the season and found a rotation that was working pretty good. Then when we got to be full strength we had to have another transition.
“It’s given us more depth in the long run, but we still lost some matches along the way that I thought we should have won.”
The players — Diana Carlson and Madeline Moran — are back and playing well for the Eagles, who won 11 of its first 15 power ranking matches of the regular season, ending with home matches against Tempe Prep on Tuesday and Paradise Honors on Wednesday.
“They know the season is on the line,” Peace said. “It’s a catch 22 because you hope the pressure makes them at a higher level, but also I think the pressure has the potential to make them crack a little. I think they will be ready.”
A Division IV squad always has to rely on players from all levels and the Eagles have been lucky enough to have a talented freshmen class, but there was yet another transition period early on in the season.
“There’s an age difference there and they don’t understand what it takes to be a varsity player,” Eagles senior Blaykleigh Smythe said. “We had to bring them along and make sure they were ready to play at this level. They have the talent, but it’s still different to play at this level.”
Giuliana Castronova is third on the team in digs, while Joliana Sadler and Alexa Smythe did most of the setting with Carlson out to give the Eagles some added depth.
The seniors, however, are the ones who will take this team as far as it can go as Lauren Arenas, Carlson, Moran and Smythe, who leads the team with 172 kills, plan finishing strong to get some momentum heading into the postseason.
“We know we have the talent to go far,” said Carlson, who has played setter and outside hitter this season. “We’ve had some trouble finishing some matches this year, but we know we can’t have that kind of let up in the playoffs because we won’t stay around long if we do.”
Peace, as all coaches do, wants more out of her team because she can see the full potential and hopes it comes together for the postseason.
“We can be really good at times, but we have struggled, too,” she said. “I know we’ve lost only four times, but I thought we’d lose only once. I think we can be that good and that’s the level we need to be at the rest of the season.”
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