Photo by Andrew Ottoson
The strength of Grangeville’s 2017 volleyball squad is in key returners Mikayla Ruzicka, Paige Lindsley, Kally Arnzen and Kate Lutz.
As of Thursday, August 31, 2017
“They work really, really hard,” first-year Bulldogs head coach Cheyenne Hudson said of her new team, “and we’re working on some mental stuff. It’s a game of mistakes, but right now they get down really fast if they make a mistake. I’m working really hard on that mental side — how they control their emotions, that kind of thing.”
Look for Grangeville to quickly learn what Hudson was able to teach some other highly gifted local athletes before stepping into the GHS job this fall.
Having been blocked from the playoffs by Whitepine League powerhouses Genesee and Troy for many prior years, Hudson’s Prairie High girls won back-to-back 1AD1 championships in 2014 and 2015.
Though she’s not yet familiar with the Central Idaho League and the present level of 2A competition more broadly, Hudson sees in her team a group of very strong athletes who can get stronger by learning to rally themselves on the court.
“Skill-wise, we have a lot of height and really strong hitters,” Hudson said. “I’m trying to teach them a little different system than what they’re used to. Once they get the fine stuff hammered out, I think they’ll be pretty aggressive. We can block well.”
Hudson’s varsity goes nine deep, with three seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and a freshman, and the program as a whole maintains 29 roster slots — for which even more girls tried out.
Leading the squad are senior setter Kally Arnzen, senior outside hitter Mikayla Ruzicka, senior outside Kate Lutz and junior middle Paige Lindsley, and during Grangeville’s season opener, they were frequently on the court with sophomores Jakaili Norman and Paige Layman and junior setter Molly DeFord.
The rotation highlighted the system change to which Hudson referred. She prefers to have two setters on the floor — what’s known as a straight 6-2 — rather than the 5-1 Grangeville employed for years.
“I just want us to be competitive,” Hudson said. “There are three teams in our league, and the state tournament takes one. Whether we go or not is left to be seen, I just want to compete for it.”
The switch to a 6-2 allows Arnzen to hit.
“And she can hit, quite well,” Hudson said. “My defense setup is a little bit different than what they’re used to as well. But they’re getting it. They’re great physical athletes — all of them. Every team struggles with the mental side of things. It’s not just these girls who get frustrated with themselves. That happens — people will miss a serve or make an error — but in a game we can’t have that. I don’t want the pouting or the hanging head. It’s how you control that. In a game situation, if you hit one into the net and now we’re down 23-24, you can’t turn to your team with your head down pouty. You have to stay positive and move on and get the next one. I’m trying to hammer that home for the girls. It’s important.”
Grangeville’s schedule continues Sept. 12 at home against Colton, followed by the Grangeville varsity tournament Sept. 16.
“At Prairie, almost every game is a league game, so that’s very different,” Hudson said. “But it doesn’t change our approach. I don’t look at any other team and worry about what they’re going to do. I put the energy into what we’re going to do, these nine. I don’t worry too much about record, either. We want growth.”
Aug. 24 vs. McCall
Aug. 29 at CV w/Kendrick
Sept. 12 vs. Colton
Sept. 16 Grangeville Tournament
Sept. 19 at Orofino
Sept. 21 vs. Lapwai
Sept. 23 vs. St. Maries
Oct. 2 vs. Orofino
Oct. 3 at Kamiah
Oct. 5 vs. Prairie
Oct. 7 Genesee Tournament
Oct. 10 at Lapwai
Oct. 12 at Prairie
Oct. 14 at St. Maries