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New Jeff volleyball coach builds enthusiasm
August 17, 2011Lafayette Jefferson High School
SAM KING -firstname.lastname@example.org
Lafayette Jeff's new varsity faces are not alone.
There are seniors who have waited three years for their chance. The same can be said for first-year coach Scott Graves.
Graves, who said he would rather have been an assistant at Lafayette Jeff than a head coach anywhere else, gets his chance to succeed Hall of Fame coach Gail Gripe. He's taking over a program he believes is on the rise after a few down years.
His players echo those thoughts.
"We have a few girls who have played club, and we have some great seniors who have stepped up in the offseason," setter Connor Garrity said. "I think we are going to be better than we were last year."
Absent so far is Gripe, who began coaching at Jeff in 1981.
The new-look Bronchos can't wait for their former coach to see what they can do on the court together.
"I can't wait for the games for her to come," said defensive specialist Jaime Whalley, who moved up from the JV last season and started for the Bronchos in the sectional.
The Bronchos return only four full-time varsity players from last season, all juniors.
But that group of Garrity, Megan Isbell, Kate Halliwell and Auna McGaughey has accepted their roles of leaders, Graves said.
"Our sophomores who started varsity last year and are now juniors are really good high school volleyball players, and not just for juniors," Graves said. "I put them up against any senior hitters in the area. They've made a lot of improvement."
There's plenty of room for improvement. Everything Graves is saying, his team is buying.
The Bronchos went winless in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference last season. That's not going to happen again, Graves assures his team.
"We're going to surprise so many teams this year. No one knows what's going to happen but we are going to be good," Whalley said.
Anyone who sees the early version of the 2011 Lafayette Jeff volleyball squad and watches the team play again late in the season will notice vast differences, Graves said.
"We have come so far along since the first day of two-a-days," Garrity said. "The drills we do now, we get through them so much faster and it's so much easier for us to meet our goals. We've already improved so much."
Gripe said when she stepped down after 30 seasons that she wanted to leave her successor with a great crop of talent to build around.
Graves vouches for his mentor in that department.
Now it's up to them to reach their potential. If they do, a new era of Broncho volleyball could start off on the right foot.
"This group that we have is going to be one of those teams that if you watch them play in two weeks, we are going to be good," Graves said. "But if you watch them play in October, the sky is the limit. We've got the athleticism and the talent and the youth. As long as we maintain a team mentality, the sky is the limit."