10/30/2013 6:00:00 AM Kingman Academy spikers gained critical experience in 2013 season
Defensive specialist Alexis McDade was all smiles against River Valley Oct. 14. She will be one of five juniors in 2014.
Matt Hollinshead Miner Staff Reporter
KINGMAN- Looking back on the 2013 season, the Kingman Academy volleyball team can attest to one thing: it's just growing pains.
"There's always room for improvement. You can go nowhere but up," said Lady Tigers sophomore outside hitter Destinee Haren-Ralph.
Short term, the Lady Tigers' frustrations were apparent with such a young roster. But let's not forget that KAHS is building for next year and beyond.
They were glad to get their first season playing in the Arizona Interscholastic Association under their belts, including Tuesday's regular season finale at Yuma Catholic High School.
"I've seen so much improvement," KAHS sophomore setter Kiersten Kinsey said, citing last Thursday's home finale against Sedona Red Rock.
"That last set, that's how I know we can play. We showed our true potential. We're trying to be a powerhouse."
Although Kingman Academy dropped that third set 25-18, it was more than the highlight of that particular match. It was a visual representation of their growth, and that they can keep growing.
Red Rock is a top-5 caliber team in AIA Division IV volleyball. Having said that, just imagine what that match might look like in 2014. Teams like Red Rock could be in for a big, rude awakening.
That's what Kingman Academy wants. That's why they weathered the storm this season by suiting up inexperienced student-athletes.
Half of this year's squad consisted of sophomores. There were times KAHS head coach Bryant Morrison was utterly dumbfounded by the magnitude of their inexperience and often-poor fundamental play. It affected their hitting, as well as their results.
Morrison will emphasize hitting and reps at Kingman Academy volleyball's training camp next summer.
"To compete with these teams in AIA, we have to have people who can hit the ball consistent and hard," Morrison said. "With what I had, I wasn't expecting state champions. But I was hoping for .500.
"Now that we have (the basics) implemented, now we can work on just getting the reps, getting the experience.
"Toward the end of the season, I noticed we were having more fun. In the last game [versus Red Rock], we went from 9 to 11 to 18. In the beginning of the season, it would have been like 9, 6, 4. It's just getting them the exposure."
While youth hindered KAHS in 2013, having young players means they have a higher ceiling. Garnering some experience this year heightens their potential.
"That's going to kick in," Haren-Ralph said. "You lead by example. (The seniors) had past experience with it all. They've been in high school for four years. They learned to adapt."
Haren-Ralph and company also adapted.
They recognized that AIA competition is far different than what they were previously accustomed to.