Bulldogs inspired by USA gold in beach volleyball

KINGMAN - Motivated by the gold medal winning U.S. women's beach volleyball team of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, the Kingman High Bulldogs take on the Flagstaff Coconino Panthers at 6 p.m. today in a scrimmage at KHS.

Coach Kasie Juelfs said that the Bulldogs have been so inspired that the team has adopted the motto of Walsh and May-Treanor. The motto of three Bs - battle, believe and breath - has been heard around the gym as the Bulldogs get ready for the season. "The Olympics was good for them to watch," Juelfs said.

Juelfs said that she felt the team was ready for Coconino, but a lethargic practice on Tuesday had her backpedaling. "We scrimmaged the JV yesterday," Juelfs said. "They have to play with the same intensity whether it's practice, a JV scrimmage or another opponent."

In step with the Bulldogs having to play with a high level of intensity, Juelfs seemed most concerned about the squad's focus. "They do very well when they zero in on what they need to do," Juelfs said. "They lose that focus when something happens and then they go into a string of errors."

In the scrimmage against Coconino, Juelfs said she would use the practice match to fiddle with her three lineups. Juelfs will look to learn who works well together and, especially, with the setters and the hitters. "I'm going to use it to find the strengths and weaknesses of each lineup," Juelfs said.

Juelfs has settled on one captain and may have as many as four. Junior setter Hillary Acer had a near-unanimous vote from her teammates to gain the award. "She's a perfect person for that," Juelfs said. "She's someone who will represent the team with honor and dignity. She knows volleyball, so she'll be able to communicate with the referees as well."

It's expected that the Bulldogs will take the court today with their nerves running wild, but Juelfs said her players wouldn't be the only ones feeling jittery. "I think I'm more nervous than they are," Juelfs said. "I don't know how they're going to handle it. I want them to do well."

Juelfs said the Bulldogs would be experiencing many firsts against the Panthers. "It'll be our first time playing a game together," Juelfs said. "Some of them will be playing together for the first time, and it's my first game."

Despite Tuesday's setback in practice and the nerves of facing an opponent for the first time this season, Juelfs appeared to have it all in balance by what she hopes the team will gain from the scrimmage.

"I just want to see some good things."