Mountain Pointe girls volleyball coach Fred Mann knew it would set the team back some, but believed the payoff could be a big one.
And he just might be right.
No coach likes to make in-season position changes, but sometimes it can’t be helped. They know there is a transition period after the decision is made, but how long will it take before positive results show up is the unknown variable.
The Pride (15-6) just might be seeing dividends after winning a three-setter against Highland last week before fall break hit. They’ll know for sure by the end of next week as the regular season ends with matches against Corona del Sol (Oct. 16) and at Desert Vista (Oct. 25).
“If things don’t go well that could possibly put us too low,” Mann said. “We have to finish strong and make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Finishing low in the seedings might not get it done because the top three in each section automatically qualifies for the state tournament. The teams in Division I, Section I are not having good seasons and are in danger of finishing outside of the top 16 of the power rankings.
That means the Division I teams that finish 14, 15 and 16 in the power rankings could be bumped for teams that have played lesser schedules and most likely have worse records in power ranking matches.
If Mountain Pointe manages at least a split with Corona and Desert Vista, while winning the rest of their matches, it shouldn’t come into play.
Mann took the steps he felt were necessary in order to get the Pride ready for the postseason when he moved senior Kayla Meester from outside hitter to libero.
“I wasn’t excited about it but knew it was what we needed,” Meester said. “It’s gone pretty well. It’s a big mental game because if you shank one they are going to come right back at you. You have to keep working hard and get the job done.”
The back row defense was struggling and was keeping the offense from setting up smoothly.
It is similar to putting diesel fuel in a regular gas tank.
“We were struggling and in order to get back to where we were at the beginning of the season we had to do something,” Mann said. “There were some growing pains, but we are making our way.
“Kayla has given us some stability and let us make a smooth (transition from defense to offense).”
The move of Meester forced other moves as sophomore Kendall Gray, junior Christine Winkelman and senior Codi Jacobsen became the main threats at outside hitter. Senior Chandler Hillman was moved from setter to middle blocker and that freed up more minutes for freshman Jessica Leo at setter.
“If you’ve been a middle blocker all your life it takes awhile to get used to it,” Mann said of moving to outside hitter. “There is a different court awareness needed and the way you approach the net is different. We have some players playing really well.”
Two of those are Hillman and Leo, as Hillman had some great hitting numbers and Leo has run the offense smoothly.
“Hillman has been very good, coming up with some big kills,” Mann said. “(Leo) is a real scrapper and does a great job.”
As long as the transition keeps moving forward, the Pride just might have one of those long postseason runs the program has been accustomed to.
“We have been playing better as everyone gets more comfortable,” Meester said. “We have some important matches coming up, but we will better for it in the playoffs.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.