North Farmington High volleyball coach Jessica Condeni knows that it’s not how you start the season, but how you finish that matters.
“With tournaments, at the end of the day, they really don’t mean anything. They are there for us to get better. We just have to stay positive and continue to get better, and we will — we’ll do that,” Condeni said as practice began Sept. 17. “Every day, they get better and they work very hard. They’re not intimidated by anything.”
The Raiders have two returning starters — senior captains Meghan Hurley and Lauren Caverly — from a squad that won a district championship last season.
At press time, the Raiders were 0-8 overall and hadn’t played a match in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.
“We don’t look the same as we did last year, so we have to look to find ways to win games,” Condeni said. “We don’t necessarily have the big, outside hitter, but we have a lot of girls who are able to do some really good things. We just have to play to our strengths and not get caught up in our league or anything — play within ourselves.”
The coach added that defense is key, as is reading what the opposing offense is trying to set up.
Offensively, she said her squad needs to “be smarter than all the other teams.”
“We have to be able to pick apart the other teams’ defenses and find spots on the floor,” Condeni said. “That’s on me as a coach to know the teams and understand their weaknesses so I can give my team information so they can do a good job with that.”
Caverly and Hurley said they and the seniors have taken it upon themselves to teach the younger players about the culture of the program.
“They’re so new to the program. It’s teaching them every aspect — the team bonding and being a good example for North. We take that as part of North Volleyball,” Hurley said.
“And the hardworking aspect,” Caverly said. “Every one of the girls has to be the hardest worker in the gym; that’s just part of the volleyball program.”
The captains are confident the Raiders will continue to get better with more time on the court and improving their court sense.
“There’s a lot of potential to get better. We’re excited about where we’re going,” Caverly said.
Catch the Raiders against Clarkston High at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 on the road.