Change-up hurts SCA’s volleyball team

Published 10:55 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Suffolk Christian Academy girls’ volleyball head coach Kristy Patton said her team showed improvement in its second match of the season on Tuesday, which was particularly impressive in light of a development that could alter the face of this year’s team.

The Lady Knights fell to visiting Greenbrier Christian Academy 26-28, 11-25, 17-25, but it was the first match in what may be a season without senior setter Hannah Fagan.

A reality of having older players in high school sports is that some of them work, and head coach Kristy Patton said several on her team do, including Fagan. Fagan’s new work schedule may prove to be a significant conflict that will prevent her from playing on a consistent basis.


Email newsletter signup

“It’s still up in the air,” Patton said. “We’re just not sure how much her employer will allow her to play.”

Should Fagan’s availability be limited, a decision is also pending from the school on whether or not to forge ahead without her completely in order to build consistency in the team’s rotation.

Fagan had been expected to play a key role on the volleyball team as a setter and leader, but her absence on Tuesday gave opportunities to two freshmen who filled in for her.

Backup setter Grace Fowler and Vivian Waddell got the call and had Monday to practice after Patton learned over the weekend she would be without Fagan this week.

Fowler played the entire match, and Waddell was frequently in at the same time, as the Lady Knights switched from a 5-1 formation with a single setter on the court to a 4-2.

Fowler was being trained as the setter of the future for SCA, but, like Waddell, she lacked any prior in-game experience at the position before Tuesday. Patton said “both she and Vivian did a great job.”

Particularly challenging but crucial for a setter is the ability to set the ball while up front, but then back up immediately afterward, taking a defensive position, anticipating the ball’s return. A bad habit of many setters is to not move back, but rather stand and watch where the ball goes as the hitter strikes it.

“I was pleased with Grace and Vivian that they didn’t do that as brand new setters,” Patton said.

The coach said her team appeared fearful at times in its first match of the season against Victory Christian School, and she noticed the same thing while it warmed up for Greenbrier. She addressed it before the game, charging the girls to play confidently, and it yielded a competitive first game.

“We hung right with them, and we looked pretty good,” Patton said, adding, “We kind of got flat after that.”

Nevertheless, Patton saw marked improvement from her team over its Victory Christian match in terms of its ability to serve and receive serves and its level of determination.

The service of senior Caitlin Hankins was strong, Patton said.

“I don’t believe she missed a serve at all.”

Sophomore Taxton Longo also drew her coach’s praise for her defensive performance.

Patton hopes to shore up the defense as a whole and continue to develop Fowler and Waddell leading into Friday’s conference opener on the road against Virginia Beach Friends School.