New year, new mentality

Harrison Epstein photo
The Glenrock volleyball team caps off practice with inter-squad 6-on-6 scrimmage drills. The Herders have their first matches of the season in Douglas on Aug. 30 and 31. 

Harrison Epstein


It’s a new school year and the Glenrock High School volleyball team isn’t wasting a second. Meghan Anderson is the new head coach of the Herders squad, a team that’s looking to improve after a season where they finished 23-11-1, falling only in the first round of the 2A State Championship.
Knowing that the competition in 2A is set to be strong, Anderson has led her team through rigorous cardio workouts and preparative drills. Outside of the technical volleyball skills, the girls work every day on supporting each other and boosting the team camaraderie.
On the opposite side of the gym, while the varsity players ran through team drills, the junior varsity team worked together to grow their fundamental skills and get used to each other as a team.
“We have a bit more harmony this year than we’ve had in our past years,” senior Peyton Shadrick said. “With our new coach, Meghan, she is bringing us to be more team-oriented.”
One main target for the team in their early practices is to get acquainted with each other’s skills and styles. According to senior Katelyn Cathcart, the most difficult part of adjusting to the practice schedule is the emphasis on conditioning — knowing that conditioning is the key to building up the endurance it’ll take to get through the end of the season.
The actual practice started off with the varsity team going through full-team receiving drills. With a line of seniors rapid-fire serving, the rest of the team worked on their saves, passing and returning. This first drill, and every subsequent one, focused on two skills that Anderson sees as fundamental to winning — ball control and consistency. When it comes to practicing their serving, the team goes through shoulder warm-ups and progressively moves back further and further throughout the practice.
“What I preach to the girls is that we’re simple,” Anderson said. “We want to make sure we’re not adding any extra movement and that we’re really focused and do our routine and get the muscle memory built up.”
Once that drill was done, it was time for the first round of conditioning. After each drill, Anderson gave her team the chance to rehydrate and ready themselves for the next wave. Senior Jaylee Rowe, an outside and opposite hitter, believes the conditioning is the best way for the team to really get into playing shape.
The first conditioning round consisted of team push-ups and sit-ups, then suicides and the final gauntlet. The final drill had groups of three moving around the gym to different conditioning drills. Girls would either be doing burps, jumping rope, sprints, wall sits, sprawls and a variety of additional volleyball-specific workouts.
Outside of scrimmages, which took place at the end of practice, the biggest drill was done to work on receiving serves. The girls line up on opposite sides of the net. One throws the ball and the other girl would hit it back and move to the back of the line. They repeated this drill while counting, out loud and as a group, how many hits they had done.
The one thing that permeated through all the drills and workouts the team did was flow. Each drill was constant motion and support from one another. If a hand smacked the top of the net on a spike attempt, or a serve sailed out of bounds, the whole team made sure to show their support for each other.
“During play, we get down on ourselves a little bit but everybody tries and brings each other up,” senior Jaylee Rowe said.
The work that they put in now will carry on for the rest of the year. The season is a marathon, not a sprint, and the players are acutely aware of what happens when they run out of gas before the end of the road. Because of this, in their group huddle, Anderson preached the ability to stick through to the end.
She felt that the team’s energy diminished as the evening went on and practice came to a close. The girls agreed. They understood what was happening and how they could prevent it from continuing.
“A lot of it is excitement. It takes your mind off of the pain in your legs or your breathing,” Cathcart said. “I know with my asthma I have to try to cheer other people on to not think about my problems.”
On the side of the gym, right by the locker room was the hydration station — a table of Hydroflasks the team would flock to after every drill. At the end of practice, and in-between guzzling as much water as possible, the girls worked on their individual handshakes. Each handshake was bound to involve hands, feet and dancing.
The Herders are a team loaded with senior talent and experience that Anderson expects to lead on and off the court. She specifically named several seniors, and sophomore Adelaide Williams, as vocal and active leaders for the team.
Anderson mentioned Mandi Tvedt as one of the team’s integral players. Tvedt is going into her senior year and was named to the Wyoming All-State team in both 2017 and 2018 for 2A. She was one of two Glenrock players to receive the honor, joining graduated senior Olivia Sebesta.
One senior going into her fourth year on the varsity team is Cathcart. Knowing that this is her last season with Herder volleyball, Cathcart is inspired to give her all every time she steps on the court. Her personal goal for the year, like many others, is to make All-Conference or All-State after steadying herself as an outside hitter for the team.
In previous years she had played libero and middle hitter as well.  She also mentioend that with her asthma she always keeps her inhaler nearby, but has yet to need it during a game. There’s still a long ways to go until the end of the season, but senior Keely Ottersbach has her eyes set on the prize.
“I think we can go to State,” she said. “I think we can win it.”
This message of hope, but really expectation for the team, is not held only by Ottersbach. Shadrick and Rowe also mentioned that the team’s positivity will help them break through their ceiling from last year and take home a title.
The journey to State kicks off for the Herders on Aug. 30 at the Douglas Invite where they will play Hot Springs, Douglas and Newcastle. Their start time, and opponents for Aug. 31 will not be known until after the games are played on Friday.
The team’s first home game will be on Sept. 20 against Niobrara County. They will also have tournaments in Gillette and Big Horn before their home showcase.


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