The North Platte Community College volleyball team isn’t shying away from how young the team is this season.
Like with every cycle at the two-year junior college level, though, the youth — and to an extent, the inexperience — leaves the door open for many to step up and fill the team’s needs.
“I think we are pretty young, and so I think just not a lot of experience as far as actual court time,” NPCC coach Alexa McCall said. “Here at the beginning, we’re working to find the best positions for people, and creating the best people on the floor that are going to fit together the best, I guess as far as chemistry goes.
“We might take some bumps along the way early, but I’m really excited with just our athleticism, our height. I think we’re going to do a lot of nice things.”
NPCC returns just seven sophomores from last year’s team, four of whom played in at least 10 matches last season. Morgan Ramsey, Tessa Metschke and Kylie Licking played in the most games of any returners last season and were featured regularly as players who could provide solid play off the bench.
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Spots in the starting lineup are open, and McCall said it provides an opportunity for the sophomores to step up.
“Not very many of them have that court experience,” she said. “I think mostly it’s leadership styles and understanding what their role looks like regardless of whether that’s on the floor or not.
“Pushing us to create the most game-like situations in practice that we can so that we can be as ready as we can when we start having those games.”
Ramsey returns with the most matches played last season. She logged 266 kills in 25 matches,
“I thought she had a really nice spring season where she got some confidence in her reps,” McCall said. “We’re going to rely on her to do some things for us.”
Ramsey feels the sophomore class this year can help replace those the team lost from last year.
“The sophomores were really good communicators, especially on the court, and volleyball is all about communicating on the court,” Ramsey said. “We lost kind of a few louder people on the court, and we definitely need to set that up.”
NPCC also boasts eight freshmen all looking to make an immediate impact. Metschke said the team is helping the freshmen get used to practice, learn the new drills and get used to playing with each other.
“Just working them through drills, because some of our drills are really confusing and challenging, and just getting them into the groove of things and making sure that they feel comfortable with us and working with us and communicating with us,” Metschke said. “It’s hard to come in as a freshman and not be shy.”
The Knights head to Beatrice on Aug. 19 for the Southeast Tournament to open their season. They will play Colby and Labette on Aug. 19, then Marshalltown and Coffeyville on Aug. 20. They also play Nebraska Wesleyan on Aug. 24.
NPCC’s home opener is Aug. 26 against Northeastern. As of now, McCall said she isn’t sure who is starting where, but she is encouraged by how much competition there is across the board.
“We have some returners that I think are going to be pushing people in those positions,” McCall said. “That’s the fun thing and the exciting thing for me right now is how competitive each position is. I’m not sure who’s going to fill those roles at this point, it’s just who’s going to be the most ready.”
NPCC also added a new assistant coach for the 2022 season. Former Knight Sydney Mullin joins the staff and brings a new energy to the program.
“I’m a young age, and spunkiness and being able to push them and compete with them and show them that if I can still do it, you can still do it,” Mullin said. “Just kind of get them a little fired up. I’m a pretty competitive person.”