Interview with head volleyball coach Terry Schmitz about the fall season
Coming into the season did you have any expectations for the team?
Schmitz: “Well, of course, you have expectations going in.”
Losing four seniors last year, do you think that impacted the team in anyway this year?
Schmitz: “Oh, yes, there was impact. The fact that just their leadership would be lost impacted us.”
With senior Brynn Hammett coming back this year, did you have any thoughts about her comeback?
Schmitz: “Well, I was excited to see Brynn decided to come back out again. I knew she could contribute to the team, so I was glad to see her come back out.”
I heard that you got a new coach – what did you think of her?
Schmitz: “She did a terrific job for us. She was very enthusiastic with the girls, we all enjoyed her, she was a great addition to our staff, she has a lot of experience, and she had just been playing at the college level, so besides being very enthusiastic, she was very knowledgeable.”
Sophomore Allie Jensen told me that you switched from a triple block to a double block – what does that mean?
Schmitz: “In the middle, first of the year, yeah, we used the triple block, meaning that all three front row players would try to block the middle. With our height being shorter than previous years, we were not effective with the block, so we just then switched to using a two-person block, then we add another defensive person in the back to be able to pick up tips and hits.”
Which one did you find to be more effective for this season?
Schmitz: “Well, again, I felt that the two-person block was more effective with this group because of we weren’t effective blocking with the three, so then it gave us another defensive person to try to pick up balls.”
Towards the beginning of the year, I saw that senior Jayden Weers was one of the Area Athletes of the Week – did you think this had any impact on the team’s performance?
Schmitz: “No, I think it was a nice award. I was actually contacted by Brent Maycock of Topeka, asking after we won the Nemaha Central Tournament, a 10-team tournament. I always like to encourage him that I’d like to just put the team down, that it’s a team effort because, obviously, it takes a team to win, but he wants just an individual. Jayden had a good day, stat [statistics] wise; she had a lot of kills and digs and so on, so she was the obvious choice as the person to choose, but again, I tell the team that it’s pretty much just because the team did well we had someone be recognized for that.”
Did you think you had any breakout players this year that did more than you expected them to?
Schmitz: “Oh, there’s always a few. I felt that [sophomore] Leighton Herman came on strong at the end of the year and helped us out at the varsity level, which was nice to see her improve her play throughout the year. There was a lot of younger players that made great strides, too. A lot of freshmen, not having a lot of experience in junior high, not getting a lot of matches, throughout the year, get experience at the high school level. A lot of the freshmen showed great improvement, which I think some of them will be able to step up and help us next year.”
Losing a lot of leadership this year, with seven seniors, who are you looking to next year to pick that up?
Schmitz: “Good question. Us coaches just talked about that the other day, and we are going to try to work on developing some leaders in some of the younger kids and stuff. Obviously, our team will look quite different next year, so we will need some leaders to step up. Again, it’s those who can show they’re a leader on and off the court – they’ll be the ones we try to go towards and lean on.”
Do you have any plans or expectations for next year? Any changes or keep it the same?
Schmitz: “We will evaluate that through the camps and stuff we have this summer and so on as the season starts. Last year, we ran a 6-2 offense, and this year, we switched to a 5-1. Next year, we may go back to 6-2. It depends on how my setters develop. You always have to evaluate and decide what system will work best with the group you got.”
Interview by staff member Spencer Dugan
Photo by staff member Braden Schwarz