For first-year coaches, the first week of the season is sometimes more about progress than wins and losses. Take Thursday’s volleyball match between Panther Creek and Rolesville for example.
Visiting Panther Creek swept the Rams 3-0 (25-13, 25-8, 25-14) and remains undefeated under new coach Holly Fong.
But it’s the Catamounts (2-0) who now have a price to pay.
“We had a personal goal of keeping each game under five (points) which we didn’t accomplish, so we’ll be running bleachers at 8 a.m. tomorrow,” senior co-captain Caroline Wang said. “She definitely expects more from us, and she said what coach would she be if she didn’t expect that much from us?”
“That’s not going to be so fun,” said Stephanie Jewett, the other PC co-captain. “Coach Holly is the kind of person who is going to hold us to that punishment. She said under five and she meant it. ... She’s been very clear about her rules and her expectations for us.”
On the other hand, Rolesville (0-3) is still in search of its first win for coach Stefanie Holler, but the Rams aren’t worried.
“I tell them, ‘I don’t care what’s on the scoreboard. I care about how you’re reacting and how you’re playing. I don’t care about how the other team is playing and how many points they have. But I do care about how you respond after a mistake,’” Holler said.
The Rams, in their second season as a senior-less school, have just three juniors on varsity.
“We’re still learning,” Holler said. “I keep using the analogy of ‘we’re building a pyramid here.’ So we’ve got to start with the basics first and that’s exactly what we did. We started from the bottom.”
Panther Creek breezed through the match in part due to 23 aces. Stephanie Jewett, who only played in the first and second game, had seven of them. Heidi Ji had seven and Alani Alderman added six.
“Going into the game, coach Holly said we need to serve tough. She said mistakes are OK, just to serve tough,” Jewett said.
Jewett also had four kills as part of a balanced attack. She was tied for the team-high with Sarah Aukamp, Madeine Broucek, Emily Maggio and Cassie Zietlow.
“They are definitely a solid group. They have the ability to go very far. It’s going to depend on how well they follow directions and things like that as far as how far they go,” said Fong, the Catamounts’ third coach in as many years. “But so far I’m very proud of the way they’ve gone with the program changes and grown in what they expect out of themselves and each other.”
Rolesville’s Savannah Strawbridge had three kills while Ashley Stroot added two. Stroot and Hannah Escalla also had one ace apiece.
The Rams went 0-19 in their first year of varsity, but this season has a groundswell of interest in the sport. The Rams have enough players to also field two JV teams.
“I came in for tryouts and tryouts tripled in size this year,” Holler said.