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Coyotes volleyball seeks a better year
Denair volleyball 3
Denair junior Taryn Fletcher gets a dig during a practice drill at home on Tuesday afternoon. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

Denair’s volleyball team has been through a rough patch the last three years, but 2014 is a whole new season.

After a long week of tryouts, coach Courtney Nutcher has selected her Coyotes roster for the upcoming year and feels that her approach into the new season should provide a different outcome.

“This year I feel like I am stricter with the girls. I am not letting them slack off as much,” said Nutcher. “Last year we had girls who when they didn’t feel like playing, they would just go through the motions and wouldn’t give a 100 percent. Things are different this year.”

With a new team on the grind, it’s inevitable that the change was coming, especially since the Coyotes return only three players from a season ago when the team’s record was 2-14-1.

Katie Oliver returns for her junior season after making the varsity squad as a sophomore.

Oliver has been working on her game with numerous local volleyball clubs during the offseason and Nutcher said she is expecting big things from her middle player.

“She really improved on her hitting skills and her court awareness to know where she needs to be on the court this year,” Nutcher said about Oliver. “She should become a bigger threat this year and not be a shy, timid sophomore like she was last season.”

Not only is Oliver the star of the squad but is also the tallest player on the team, something that Denair will struggle with this year—size.

As a smaller team in terms of size, they will be competing in the Southern Athletic League against big teams like Mariposa, Ripon Christian and Le Grand so it will be interesting to see how the Coyotes fare.

“We can’t afford to be slow or lazy, so getting them quick on their feet and moving is the biggest thing for us this year,” Nutcher said. “I have told them that we are short but our strategy is to put the ball on the court because we won’t be able to power through a block but if we can play in good position then we will be ok.”

In order to make this happen Nutcher has incorporated conditioning in her new methods, making her team pay for mistakes being made by working out.

“We can get kills off hits and great sets and that’s what we’re focusing on is being a smart team. [We] don’t need to be a powerhouse,” said Nutcher. “This year it is about getting them in shape with conditioning so they can last five games if they have to and no slacking off because they can’t afford that this year.”

Selena Ortiz will be another key contributor to the team, alongside newcomers who are expected to play hard.

“We have a lot of young players so we’re just trying to get the juniors up to the varsity level,” said Nutcher. “We do have good and strong servers this year. I expect them to give it 100 percent, every day and every practice and work as a team.”

Denair's first game is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against Turlock Christian.