Rockdale volleyball is looking to improve on last season, a stellar season that saw the team go to the sweet 16 and win a region championship despite having lost all of their starters. We talked to head coach Stephen Sansing about repeating and what it's like losing every starter from such a good team.
The Rockdale News: Coach talk a little bit about how you felt you guys gots better and improved over the summer and some of the things that you guys were working on.
Stephen Sansing: OK. Well, we graduated every starter so we got a young team. We did a lot of playing this summer just so they could get used to playing with each other. We went to camp at Emory for three days, then we did a four day tournament at John's Creek and a four-day tournament at George Walton and Loganville. So we played a lot of matches, we probably ended up playing about 20 matches or so this summer. It just helps a lot with getting everybody kind of together. We're still not there yet, but we've had two weeks of practice now that school's started and an extra tryout. So hopefully we can go out there and do well this weekend. We know we're still not a finished product yet regardless of our results this weekend.This is just gonna help us see exactly what we do need to improve on.
RN: When you lose that type of experience, like you said you lost all your starters pretty much from last year, how do you come back and instead of having that rebuilding year, how do you make it a reload?
Sansing: Most of these girls practiced against all those seniors last year. A lot of them were on the varsity team they just played behind them. They're hungry, they want to prove that they're good too. I think just the mindset of them - they're not necessarily brand new players, they just don't have the experience. I feel confident that we're gonna have a good team because of the practices they went through last year. Now it's just time for them to show it.
RN: Coming off that deep run that you guys made last year, in what was a great year coach, what are some of your goals for this year?
Sansing: Honestly we still have the same goals. These girls want to win the region championship. They wanna host in the playoffs, hopefully make the sweet 16 and even shoot for making it one round further. I really think that we can do it. A few years ago back in 2010 we own the region championship and I had like eight seniors that year and so the next year everybody expected us to be down and we had went to the sweet 16 just like last year, and then the next year we come back with an all-new starting team had a lot of sophomores in there and we not only won the region championship again, but we made the elite eight. That showed me that I never discount my team. I feel like if we can go out there and we really work hard and continue to improve here in the season then there's no reason why we can't repeat as champs and advance in the playoffs.
RN: Is there anything else you'd like to add about the season?
Sansing: I'm excited that for the first time probably in four years we're gonna play Heritage and Salem on the same night. We're playing them at Heritage this year so I think that'll be a great night for the county, the community to come out and watch some volleyball. I think that'll be probably the highlight. Schedule-wise we just haven't been able to get all of us together on one night. We tried we just haven't been able to do it, but this year looks like we'll be able to.