By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Volleyball practice for the Port Isabel High Lady Tarpons got started this week. On Monday, 55 players showed up early in the morning and got to work.
The PRESS found third-year head volleyball coach Julie Breedlove at the athletic offices Monday afternoon and got her report on how the first day went.
“We just worked on fundamentals mostly,” Breedlove said. “The kids came in real excited and I was real pleased with what I saw.”
“We did a couple of drills where they had to play a little bit of defense. And we had some games, like Queen of the Court, and a serving game … just so we could look at the girls and see where they are with their skills.”
Coach Breedlove talked specifically about the various types of skills she wants her players to have, as well as the kind of game she wants to see them play.
“It’s reaction time and trying to read the hitters,” Breedlove said. “The block is what you want for your first line of defense. But we’re not necessarily looking at stuffing the ball, or getting a lot of blocks, as opposed to refunneling the hits.”
Asked what refunneling meant, Breedlove said, “We want the hits to go where our defensive players are, so we use that block to funnel the ball.”
Senior Alex Martinez is starting her fourth season of varsity volleyball competition, and she also likes the way things are going so far this week. “It’s actually going really good. The upcoming freshmen are really good. They have some talent. We’ll keep helping them out and they’ll be just fine.”
Breedlove is very happy to have such an experienced player as Martinez returning to the back row of the on-court lineup. Martinez is what is known as a libero, or defensive specialist, and she plays only in the back row.
“She’s a tough kid … and she doesn’t let much intimidate her,” Breedlove told the Press. “Most of the time she goes in for our middles when they go to the back row. She can only play in the back row and that job carries a lot of responsibility with it. Alex just does a great job at really just buckling down and getting those balls.”
Another upper-classman on the team is junior and second-year varsity player Simone Harry, who is also excited to be back on the court. Harry talked about how the veteran players help the incoming freshmen and varsity newcomers.
“Coach Breedlove has this thing. The first day the juniors and seniors needed to warm up, and we had to warm up with a freshman or sophomore. So we’re getting to know all the freshmen and sophomores. So she made it happen. It’s pretty cool.”
Weight room workouts are getting more emphasis this year and Harry is a real believer in the benefits of pumping a little iron. “Volleyball and weight lifting completely coincide with each other. You can’t rely just on your arm swinging hard enough to make that ball go down. You need to have the strength behind the hit, and to get that you need to be in the weight room. We work on arms, shoulders, back, legs, everything.”
The Lady Tarpons will see action against other teams this weekend, already, as they have two scrimmage tournaments scheduled. They will actually scrimmage against several different teams on Friday and again on Saturday. At Sharyland Pioneer this Friday, Aug. 7 they will face off against teams from Laredo LBJ and La Joya, as well as the host school. On Saturday they’ll head to Los Fresnos where they will test themselves against the Lady Falcons, as well as Sharyland and Brownsville Hannah.
Next Tuesday, Aug. 11, the Lady Tarpons will welcome Hannah to Tarpon Gym for the first match of the new season. The Lady Tarpon freshmen light and freshmen dark teams will play at Hannah, while the varsity and junior varsity squads will play host to the Lady Golden Eagles at 7 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively.
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