Red Hawks tournament is just the beginning

By Darren Lum

Published Dec. 13 2016

There’s a lot to be said about learning by doing.
Steve Smith coach of the Red Hawks junior girls’ volleyball team gave credence to this after his team hosted five Kawartha West high schools for an invitational exhibition tournament on Tuesday Dec. 6.
He believes his team will get better with more experience after seeing them play in the team’s first competition last week.
“These tournaments are all about experience and so I try to get all the girls some sort of experience. Especially at home. We got parents and whatnot here” he said. “It’s fun to get the girls out and involved. It’s the first time for some of the girls playing in front of their hometown.”

The Hawks played very well in the first two matches.
In their opening match against the Falcons of Fenelon Falls they were controlling play and were up 12-8 but  after the Falcons took an 18-17 they lost their ability to execute getting outscored seven points to nothing to end with a 17-25 loss.
To Haliburton’s credit they came back to split the match 25-17 from a 10-3 run to close out the second game.
With only minutes of rest before they played their next opponents the Wildcats of I.E. Weldon the Hawks carried the momentum from their win and beat the Wildcats 25-20. In the second game the Hawks appeared poised to complete the shutout but could not capitalize on a 12-6 lead and a 20-17 lead. The Wildcats erased both deficits and went on to win 25 – 23 for the split with an 8-3 run.
The early success for the Hawks didn’t carry against their next two opponents: St. Thomas and LCVI.
In both games the Hawks were shut out. Although Haliburton had a strong chance to split the match with St. Thomas the visiting Titans proved too strong and edged out the red and white 26-24.
After four straight game losses the Hawks finished strongly and shut out Brock (25-14 and 25-22) to end the day.

During the day nerves played a part with some of the rookies who felt the pressure to perform. Some even asked to be substituted. Smith still encouraged the rookies to play and take the spotlight.
Smith appreciated his team’s effort over the long afternoon which included 10 games in about three hours. The team finished 4 – 6.
“It’s a long day when you have five or 10 games. It’s the first time the girls played it. What I’m doing conditioning with them I’ll be telling them ‘remember those 10 games’” he said.
The team’s veterans such as Natalya Gimon and Dakota MacDonald led the way. Both are on club teams and practising twice a week and competing during the weekend in addition to the Hawks. Other players that had a strong afternoon were Samantha Steffenson Nicole Cox and setters Arden Harrop and Emma Casey. Neither was shy about taking that second ball often screaming “mine” to alert teammates. It was a respectable start for rookie Samantha Pamplin.

Smith liked the team’s ability to spike and serve but believes there is room for improvement when it comes to passing.
“It gives me some things to work on. There were serving errors. You get the ball and then serve it right back into the net. I try to tell them: Just get the first one over. Get comfortable and whatnot. They get a little nervous sometimes so we’ll take about serving” he said.
Smith takes responsibility for the team’s struggles particularly when the team was blown out.
“That has to do with the coaching. You know what? I was still learning their numbers so sometimes there were some players in different spots that they’re not normally in so there was a little bit of confusion. That’s [a] coaching [issue]” he said.
The poor rotations costed the team a few points in the early matches he said.

Positioning and knowledge of who should receive is on the list of things to work on.

Smith said it’s part of the process.
“This was the first kick at the can for some of the girls. They did really really well. They’re just having to adapt in the game” he said referring to position and picking up the ball pertaining to serve reception.
It’s all a work in process for them.
“The way volleyball is now if you can serve and get a good pass to your setter the rest of it is easy” he said. “We do a lot of fundamental [work]. It’s starting to pay off but they’re not quite where we need to be but it’s a good starting point for them moving forward.”