PIMA — Last year, Pima volleyball players acquired a new head coach and brushed their fingers along the 2A playoff bracket before getting knocked out in the play-in round.
This year, with returning players knowing head coach Keoni Bailado’s system better, and he knowing them, they have new goals as a team.
Pima swapped in four upcoming seniors for the four who graduated.
“I’m definitely seeing a lot of stepping up as far as leadership from the younger ones who have been playing on varsity. There are a few who have not been afraid to become leaders. Definitely excited for that in terms of their growth as players and as people,” Bailado said.
This year’s seniors are Madison Graves, Sadie Mecham, Madeline Kay and Kyla Allred.
Kay, one of the few who have been with Pima from start to finish, said, “The last three years, as I got older, I got to see how much being a teammate is important. I’ve become closer to everyone. I used to stick to myself and was kind of quiet. Now, I find it fun to be with the team.
“This year, we just need to play smart and fluently with each other,” she continued. “We’re not big, tall girls, so we need to play smart. We had open gyms, went to the Blue Ridge tournament, and went to the Pima and EAC. I’m trying to put the hours in.
When asked about her opportunity to be a leader this year, Kay said, “I want to be a good teammate. That’s the most important part, I think.
“I think if we keep working on the little things, the things we’re very capable of doing, everything else will fall into place,” Bailado said. “I’m excited for this year. Last year was like our first go-around with me being head coach. The girls have adjusted to our style pretty well. I think they’re willing to keep going, which is super exciting for us.”