Lady Cats short on experience and size

Siobhan Flatow is one of four sophomores on this year’s Lady Wildcats volleyball team. The team returns just one starter from last season. CNJ photo by Mike Linn.

By Mike Linn

They’re short and young and inexperienced, and by their coach’s own admission great for a Class 3A high school volleyball team.

But the Clovis Lady Wildcats are in 5A, and will need hustle and teamwork to compete this season with some of the taller and more talented squads.

Returning just one starter and three members from last year’s state playoff team, Lady Wildcats coach Darrel Ray said he’s ready for an up-and-down season.

“When you’re playing with that much inexperience on the floor you’ve got to know that some nights they’re going to look really, really good, and other nights they’re going to make you look really, really bad. You just have to be patient. It’s going to take them a while to work into their own identity,” Ray said.

But with youth also comes room for growth, learning the game and improving as the season goes on, said Ray, who has two weeks to get his team ready for the season opener.
Even so, Ray said height — his tallest player is 5-foot-9 — will be a difficult disadvantage to overcome.

“There’s Class A schools with more height than that,” Ray said. “We’re going to be the youngest and we’re going to be the smallest in the district. We’re going to have to out-hustle, out-pass our opponents.”

Hustle is something Lady Wildcats Crista Mestas and Laura Wood hope will give them an edge over taller, more experienced teams.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we all know it,” Mestas said. “We’re going to be playing teams with girls who are 6-foot and 5-10. We’re going to have to be quick to the ball and make sure we dive for every ball.”

Wood said height won’t be a major factor because some of the Lady Wildcats have good jumping ability.

But for that athletic ability to become an asset, the young club will have to get better faster, something Wood and Mestas believe should unfold naturally since all the players are close and get along well.

Ray hopes they’re right. For now, though, he just hopes his team will be competitive when district play begins.