Van Meter volleyball looks to return in a new class

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Van Meter’s volleyball team started their season with their first practice on August 8.

Head coach Sara Cook said the first practice had a good turnout and it was good to see everyone in the gym.

“Everyone was ready to work hard and it was nice to see them pick up the pace,” Cook said.

Although Monday may have been the Bulldogs’ first official practice, the volleyball team had the opportunity to hit the gym all summer with the option of going to volleyball camps.

Cook said there were three camps over the summer that the volleyball team had the opportunity to attend: a UNI camp, one in Johnston, as well as the champions approach camp. , which took place in Van Meter.

She added that all camps went well and gave an overview of what will work for the upcoming season.

Van Meter's Emma Gilliland looks to drive the ball one block past Woodward-Granger's Jada Tague (10) and Grace Deputy (11) during a game Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 in Woodward.

At the UNI and Johnston camps, the team had the chance to compete and see how the different formations performed, while the Champions Approach Camp offered the Bulldogs a chance to work on some skills they needed , according to Cook.

“The champions approach camp is kind of unique, because I work with the coach and tell him what we need to work on and he’ll really slow down and get us where we need to go with it,” Cook said. “So we broke serve, got a lot, because that’s something we really wanted to work on this year.”

Cook added that as she returned to training on Monday she could already see some of the girls doing things they weren’t doing last season and said there had been huge growth over the course of the season. summer, which will be seen a lot in the games.

Many of the girls in training this year are some of the same throwbacks from last year’s squad, with Van Meter not losing too many players from last season’s roster.

According to Cook, one benefit of bringing back so many players is the experience and leadership the girls bring.

“There are going to be a few girls that we are going to move to different positions, but they still have that sense of the pitch and that experience from last year still on the pitch, but now they could be moved to a bit more of a leadership role where they’re starting to make big plays for us,” Cook said.

Van Meter's Makenzie Dubbin digs during a match against Woodward-Granger on Thursday, October 14, 2021 at Woodward.

She added that Van Meter had several first-year starters last season who gained college experience, so now they’ll be a little calmer on the field.

While the sophomores on this year’s team will already have a year of college playing time under their belt, Cook said the seniors hope to return to the state tournament.

Van Meter was a little shy of going to the state last season, falling in the regional championship, and Cook said the goal this year is to get things done and get back to the state.

“We’ve moved up to 3A this year, from 2A, and we have really big goals for that,” Cook said. “We have a team that wants to do it…they just want to make a splash in 3A.”

With the move to 3A, Van Meter also won’t play against every team in the West Central Activities Conference this season, according to Cook.

Teya Speltz of Van Meter makes a block against Grace Deputy of Woodward-Granger during a game Thursday, October 14, 2021 in Woodward.

Instead, the Bulldogs are going to a conference tournament near the end of the season to take on some of those teams, as well as a few other tournaments.

“If we did a conference tournament and didn’t all play [the conference teams], it gives teams the opportunity to compete in bigger tournaments,” Cook said. “So, for example, we’re going to a Nevada tournament and we’re going to a Dike-New Hartford tournament where we’re going to meet a lot of bigger teams and get really good experience to push ourselves.”

The Bulldogs will play their season opener against the ACGC at 6:30 p.m. on August 23 at Van Meter High School.

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