Volleyball team, a group with a lot of varsity experience, to play first meet this week
Vikings begin official practices after busy offseason that included camps, open gyms, and scrimmages
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling High School’s varsity volleyball squad – a team that started its official practices for the 2018 fall season last week – will play in its first tournament this week with a group that has a lot of varsity experience.
“Strong senior class coming in, and our juniors are very athletic,” Coach Tim Zigila said. “Lots of game experience with that returning core of kids.”
“Senior-heavy group that has lots of experience, which is good. We’re blessed with having some pretty decent athletes,” Coach Zigila said.
Coach Zigila said Alainna Moffit and Nicole Oppermann are both coming into their third seasons on varsity along with returners Esa Powers, Hailey Hartman, Madison Longendyke, Gracie Lochinski, and Zora Binert, all of whom contributed to the squad’s efforts last year.
The team started its official practice sessions with tryouts on Wednesday, Aug. 8, and Thursday, Aug. 9. Prior to that, the players took part in a variety of offseason activities this summer to help get ready for the upcoming campaign.
In early July, Grayling players participated in an All-American camp, a three-day event that offers instruction from former All-American volleyball players at the college level.
“They bring in D1 All-Americans from your region. The whole point of it is to get some different instruction,” Coach Zigila said. “In some aspects they reinforce what we’ve been talking about already.”
Coach Zigila said the question and answer session of the camp was beneficial; it gave the participants an opportunity to “learn what it takes to be a D1 athlete.”
The volleyball program also conducted open gym sessions in June and had a recent scrimmage event vs. two area squads.
“We had a really, really nice scrimmage here with Roscommon and Houghton Lake,” Coach Zigila said.
The Vikings also went to a team camp at Ferris State University. Coach Zigila called it “a great experience” for the girls.
“We got to see a lot of teams that we don’t usually see,” Coach Zigila said.
The offseason work is paying off now that practices have begun, he said.
“I’ve seen the benefits already,” Coach Zigila said. “I think we’re passing better.”
Passing and serving are aspects of the game that the squad needs to improve, Coach Zigila said. Also, communication.
“I really want us to communicate better on the floor. Communicate and movement, because it’s a very fast game. We’ve got to move better as a team,” Coach Zigila said.
Early practices have gone well, he said.
“It’s going pretty good,” Coach Zigila said. “I think we’re off to a pretty good start.”
The Vikings will be tested early; their first tournament of the season is slated for Friday, Aug. 17, in Roscommon. The squad’s first league meet of the season is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 28, at Boyne City.
Coach Zigila said several teams could compete for the top spots in the Lake Michigan Conference this year.
“I see the conference as being wide open,” he said.
As of late last week, the planned format for this year’s Grayling volleyball program is to have a varsity squad and two junior varsity (JV-A and JV-B) teams. No freshman team. The program has very few sophomores and a lot of freshmen this year. Coach Zigila said several area schools now have two JV teams.
“Most teams in our conference have JV-B teams,” he said.
“It’s nice because it gives these sophomores a year to get better and hopefully contribute on varsity next year,” Coach Zigila said. “This is a strong freshman group.”