The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Mike Motz
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

League Play Opens with High Hopes


January 26, 2018

Mike Motz

Sidney Volleyball Club coach Lucia Howard evaluates a potential player during the 12 and under volleyball club tryouts.

Lucia Howard, or "Coach Lu" as she is better known in the volleyball community, has a vision for the Sidney area that involves campfires, pancakes, and six-packs.

That vision isn't about having a fun camping trip-those words are all volleyball terms, and the Sidney community is going to become more familiar with them as the area girls who are selected for the Sidney Volleyball Club start their 2018 campaign.

The Sidney Volleyball Club is an AAU (American Athletic Union) registered club, meaning they have a well-organized plan to develop the girls talent using AAU qualified coaches. The tournaments begin in February, and are in locations such as North Platte, Hastings, and Casper, Wyo. In March and April, tournaments are being planned to be held locally in Sidney.

"Coach Lu" is a former University of Arkansas volleyball standout and coach of the Broken Arrow (Tulsa, OK) Volleyball Club. She is also currently the head coach of the Sidney Lady Raiders High School volleyball team.

The Sidney Volleyball Club started in 2017, and immediately enjoyed success in tournaments throughout Nebraska and Wyoming, highlighted by a first place finish in the AAU tournament last March in Gillette, Wyo.

Howard hopes to continue on that successful path, and on Monday and Tuesday held tryouts for the two teams; the 14U Girls (includes 13 and 14 year olds) and the 12U Girls (includes 10,11,and 12 year olds).

Three coaches plus Coach Lu evaluated the hopefuls to select the nine players that would make the team. This is a competitive league, so the girls were evaluated on their skill level and how much improvement they would need prior to tournament play.

Every girl trying out was assigned a number, and the coaches graded them on objective measurements (height, speed, vertical leap) and subjective skills such as agility and ball handling. Each of these categories is assigned a number value and added together.

The categories are added up and the nine best scoring girls are selected for the team. Only then do the coaches learn the girls names, to ensure there is no favoritism and that the selection is based only on ability.

Volleyball is a very popular varsity level sport in colleges across America, and having a strong club program in the area which creates quality players that then feed into the high school team is a great way to help area kids get noticed by colleges, and perhaps earn a scholarship. Additionally, getting the girls started at a young age teaches them poise, dedication, confidence, and sportsmanship.

If you're curious, here's the meanings of "campfire," "pancake," and "six-pack." A "Campfire" is when the ball falls to the floor in an area that's surrounded by two or more players and it appears as if the players are encircling and starting a campfire. A "Pancake" is a one-handed defensive technique where the palm slides along the floor while the player dives and is timed so that the ball bounces off the back of the hand. And a "Six-Pack" is when a blocker gets hit in the face or head by an opponent's spiked ball.


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