After a beating Mira Loma 3-0 on Tuesday, the girls varsity volleyball team (9-8) is ready to face rival El Camino next Tuesday.
El Camino is planning to bring its band and cheering section into Rio’s gym, but the Raider cheerleaders and fans will be backing the home team. And the girls feel prepared for the Eagles (8-6).
Rio has faced many challenges in getting together a full team. With 19 returners at tryouts and no cuts being made, the team was in good shape for the upcoming season. Soon however, players started dropping out due to the year’s impending school work and various injuries leaving the team with only 12 to round out the 2017 squad.
“We started the season with 19, ended up with 12, but then we would have injuries, so we’ve been playing with seven or eight the past few weeks,” said assistant coach Gary Garot.
Since the first day of school, the team has been training hard in order to follow the footsteps of last year’s team, and make the playoffs. They started off the season with a tournament at Foothills High School with only seven players attending because of various injuries and grades that were too low, making them ineligible to play.
Sadly, on the second day of the tournament, the team lost junior Shay Mellor to an ankle injury. They had to finish the tournament with only six players, the minimum amount possible.
With so few players, everyone has had to work much harder, and some have even had to play different positions. Adapting to play back row when you’re training to be a hitter can be difficult in such a short amount of time. Even with their inconvenient season start, the team has had more wins than losses so far.
“With most of the girls playing the whole game, everyone needs to work harder for every ball, because they are all more tired, and they can’t depend on everyone else to pick up tips and blocks,” said John Grix. “I think that they all have improved their drive and endurance, and hopefully they can continue to work this hard even when the injured girls come back.”
Grix has been on the coaching staff for the volleyball team since 2001, and varsity head coach since 2006. During his tenure as head coach, he has never had more losses than wins in a single season.
“While this has been a difficult couple of weeks, I have seen so much growth in such a short amount of time that I don’t think would have occurred if everyone could have played; silver lining,” said Grix.
Luckily, injured players are getting better quickly, and getting back into training as soon as they can. By the end of the season, everyone should be able to play.
“I know that they can make playoffs if they keep working as hard as they are right now,” said Grix. “This team has had a very challenging season so far, but they have worked hard to keep a good record, and are getting players back as the weeks go on.”
The team has a home game every Tuesday at 6:15. Their last regular season home game is Tuesday, Oct. 24, and they play El Camino on Tuesday, Oct 3.