Lady Buffs optimistic about chances

by marlys good

Coach Sara Schlattmann and assistant coach Laura Hodgson have the Lady Buff netters rarin’ to go for the North Big Horn Tournament in Lovell this weekend. The tournament is the kickoff for the 2013 volleyball season and fans will get a preview of what they can expect to see on the court.

Thirty-three girls, including eight returning varsity players, reported for two-a-day practices that began Monday, Aug. 19. With school getting underway Tuesday it was a tiring week for the athletes. “The girls worked very hard and we did a lot of conditioning,” Schlattmann said. “They were definitely tired by the end of the week, but it was worth it.”

The focus has been on basic skills, according to the coach. “We know that passing and serving are the key to winning.”

The team is focused; there has been little or no complaining, and Schlattmann said all the players seem to be working to better the team. “These girls have their sights on big things this season.”

The coach said the athletes recognize that “there is a lot of talent on this team and no one’s position is a given.”

Schlattmann noted that, “At this point in the season we have a lot to improve upon. We are going to have to work hard at being smart players because we are not necessarily big hitters,” although she has seen a big improvement already.

With the opening matches just a day away, the coach has not settled on who will be starters, or even determined who will be going to the tournament for sure. “We anticipate taking about nine girls for the varsity tournament, which will be held at Rocky Mountain High School in Cowley, and 10 or 11 for the junior varsity tournament (in Lovell).”

Pool play Friday afternoon has the Buffs in a pool with Burlington, Lovell A and Ten Sleep. Greybull will play Ten Sleep at 3 p.m. and Burlington at 5 p.m.

Pool B includes Kemmerer, Lovell B, Meeteetse and Rocky Mountain.

Team will be seeded into the bracketed tournament Saturday based on their records in pool play

The junior varsity Buffs, under the watchful eye of Hodgson, will face Rocky Mountain at 4 p.m. Greybull and Meeteetse play at 5 p.m. Friday.

Saturday they will go up against Kemmerer at 10 a.m. and Burlington at 2 p.m.

“I think we’ll see a variety of levels of play this weekend, but it is a good tournament to try different rotations and positions. This early in the season we just really want to get the girls some playing time and see how they perform in competition.”

Schlattmann has high praise for former coach Brittany Miller. “I just can’t say enough for what she did to get this program rolling. I learned so much from her and how she coaches. These girls are well disciplined and focused and she deserves the credit for that. I hope we can continue to build on this in the years to come.”