An Abundance Of Experience Returns To Volleyball Team
August 1, 2019
The dog days of summer are upon us, but fall high school sports are just around the corner. The Tecumseh Lady Savage Volleyball team begins play on Aug. 13 with a boat load of experience.
Coach Emma LaChappell begins her fourth season as the head coach and is enthusiastic about this group of players. There are 17 seniors on the squad, and they have been with Coach LaChappell and assistant coach Meagan Laughlin for all four years.
"This group of seniors have been with Meagan and me since we started coaching; it'll be sad to see them go," according to the coach. It may be sad to see them move on at the end of the season, but Coach LaChappell feels they have abundant potential to do big things during the season.
"This team has the potential to make it to the state tournament," said LaChappell. "If we can play well enough to get ranked where we need to be, we could make it to state. We got noticed last year by some higher ranked teams that are calling to get on our schedule for the competition. Maybe getting noticed will help our rankings going into the playoffs."
The T-Town ladies have the talent and experience on the team to make a run in the playoffs, but they may have to overcome one obstacle. The opening game of the season and most of the home games in the near future will be played away from the friendly confines of the Tecumseh gym.
Due to the ongoing construction and some unexpected issues at their home gym, the Lady Savages have been practicing at the former St. Gregory's gym in Shawnee. The team will be bussed daily for practices and will host home games at St. Gregory's until the renovation is done at home.
"I don't think it should be a big deal," per the coach. "We've been practicing at St. Gregory's since we began practice last week and we held our summer camp there this summer. You might say it's become our home away from home."
The team camp held at the former college's campus was July 15-18 and was run by a group called Gold Medal Squared. The team camp was just for Tecumseh and was a pretty intense training for the Lady Savages. "I think it went really well and I think we got better," noted Coach LaChappell.
The hopes of the team are bolstered by the season a year ago when the Lady Savages had an impressive increase in wins. The ladies finished last season with a record of 17-9 and as the Regional Tournament Runner-up, one step away from the State Tournament. The team also finished second in their summer league in June at Chickasha.
The coach hopes that last season's success and this summer's hard work will be a spring board to the next step with this group of upper classmen. With 17 seniors and a total of 40 players in 9th through 12th grade, there is plenty of depth.
As it stands right now, the varsity squad is made up of 11 players, including 10 seniors and one junior, along with several others waiting in the wings. The varsity 11 currently are seniors Cierra Garcia, Skye Branham, Bailey Swanner, Brooklyn Sutton, Natalie Whiteman, Baylee Keel, Emily Ridley, Jenna Jones, Jenna Harrison, Emma Kinsey and junior Megyn Walker.
The coach says she has a well-balanced team and all 11 will play fairly equally. "Literally every girl on our team knows every position on the team and that makes us versatile. That's why I like this group of girls because they will play wherever you ask them to play."
The team will play with a Libero (defensive specialist), but the decision as to who it will be has not been made. "We have three very good defensive specialists in Cierra Garcia, Emma Kinsey and Megyn Walker, but we don't know who will wear the Libero jersey yet. Each one of these girls is versatile and can play any position on the floor."
When asked about the strength of the team, Coach LaChappell didn't hesitate to answer. "I think what we talked about is our strength, everybody can do everything in the rotation. We have a team of volleyball players-not specialist. Plus, the energy and commitment they bring to the floor is unlike anything we've seen in our four years."
A tougher question for the coach was about a weakness or something the team needed to work on. It took her a minute, but she decided it was the team being too self-critical. "Being afraid to make a mistake and being less aggressive after a mistake, we're working on that. We tell them that the only mistake they can make is to be afraid of making one. If they go through the season afraid to make a mistake, then they may not be as good as they could be."
"We're excited for every season, but we're really excited for this season and the potential this team has and what this group of girls is doing for the Tecumseh Volleyball Program. We can't wait for the season to start."
The wait won't be long as the Lady Savages open the season by hosting Life Christian School on Aug. 13 at St. Gregory's. You probably should try to get out and see this talented team.