Workouts for the West Orange-Stark volleyball team began last week. Prospective Lady Mustangs attended three days of tryouts at the high school to make the team.
Sheradan Starnes begins her second year as the head coach of the West Orange-Stark volleyball team. Enthusiasm for the volleyball program can be reflected in the increased number of young ladies who are trying to make the varsity.
Starnes recapped last year here first as the head coach of the Lady Mustangs. “We had nine seniors on the team, we had a veteran team returning. I thought the season went rather well. Our record may not have reflected how well the season went, but we actually had some milestones by taking some teams to five games that we didn’t normally take to five games. The girls learned how to actually battle through and come back up from the downside of the roller coaster in a game. I was very proud of them for that,” Starnes reflected.
Four of the Lady Mustangs return from last year’s team. T’Era Garrett is a vocal leader on the team and is always a positive influence on the other players.
Garrett will probably be the libero for West Orange-Stark. Starnes shared, “Because she’s all over the place all over the floor, she’s not going to let the ball hit the court. T’Era works really well with everybody else, and she’s one of the main components that we need defensively.”
Reagan Pitre returns for the Lady Mustangs as a six-rotation player. Pitre may have a new role as a backup setter this year which Reagan has expressed she is not terribly thrilled with doing. “We’re going to work on it and it’s going to be a great thing,” Starnes believes.
The two middle hitters are back from last year for the Lady Mustangs with Ciara Dunn and Bryanah Burnette. This should be a big asset for West Orange-Stark this season.
Burnette has great jumping ability. Starnes elaborated, “Bryanah Burnette can jump through the roof. She has a very high vertical jump, and her timing is coming around so she’s going to be a pretty valuable hitter for us.”
The tallest girl on the Lady Mustangs is Dunn. Ciara has very good anticipation skills, and she hits the ball really well too. “We’re very excited about those four returners,” Starnes expressed.
Another source of excitement for Coach Starnes is the quality of her new coaching staff this year. Assistant coaches this season will be Jaden Spell and Aaliayah Griggs for the Lady Mustangs.
Griggs is a graduate of West Orange-Stark in 2016. She played volleyball, basketball, and ran track when she was a Lady Mustang.
Spell played college basketball and coaches girls basketball at West Orange-Stark. Starnes exclaimed, “The two of them are real young, they’re real energetic, and so they’re bringing something to the program that we haven’t had. They’re getting the girls out and they’re getting the girls excited . Jaden and Aaliayah participate with the girls, they’re playing, they’re really trying to get the girls to buy into a winning culture here which is what we’re trying to get to.”
The record of wins and losses for the Lady Mustangs over the last few years is somewhat misleading according to Starnes. “It’s not great, we don’t have that many wins, but we’ve improved so much. Our goal this year is we are going to win some games, and I’ve got the coaching staff to help me do that,” Starnes promised.
Improvement is needed in multiple areas on the team Starnes admitted. The Lady Mustangs are working to improve their passing to make it more accurate and reliable. The coaches are also working to get the Lady Mustangs’ serves more consistent.
There are a lot of young freshman coming out for the volleyball team at West Orange-Stark. Only one freshman played last year, but a lot more are trying out this year. Starnes exuded, “Everybody so far is excited to be here. They’re wanting to be here, they’re putting forth all the effort, and they’re learning really quickly. We’ve added some stuff too, so the room for improvement is there but I think we’re already on the right track to get there.”
Coach Starnes would love to have an opportunity to play for a chance to be in the post season. Last year West Orange-Stark took a couple of its opponents to five games, and Starnes admitted it was just a matter of the Lady Mustangs not knowing how to win in those kind of games because they have not been in that position very many times during recent seasons.
The goal is for the Lady Mustangs to be in more of those five-game matches and the experience will turn to the positive for them. “Hopefully, we’re going to get to the point when we get to a game five we know it’s ours and not an oh what do we do or I don’t know if we can do this kind of thing. The girls just were not used to it. Had we taken some of those game five matches we got in we would have made the playoffs last year,” Starnes asserted.
The potential for a winning West Orange-Stark volleyball program is there, the coach assures. “We have an enthusiastic group. My expectation is that win-loss record is going to look a little bit better, but besides that we’re going to be building an actual program so that even next year and the year after and the year after that we can continue to build and build and build and make the Lady Mustangs’ volleyball something to contend with so that people sit back and say wow we’ve got to play West Orange-Stark now and that’s the goal right now,” Starnes concluded.