PARACHUTE - David Walack knows his Grand Valley High School volleyball team doesn't have a whole lot of height. That's something the Cardinals' coach admits his team will have to overcome.
"We're not a tall team, but we'll have to play tall," said the fifth-year coach, who spent 12 years coaching volleyball at Rangely before his current gig in Parachute. "We're going to have to rely on defense, serve well and be more consistent overall."
Consistency was a big factor last year. They lost eight in a row following a season-opening victory over Rifle, but improved as the season progressed and finished with a 5-5 record and a two-match win streak.
Walack hopes that improvement will continue this season, and he feels the players who will grace the Grand Valley roster have the tools to do just that.
"I'm very excited about this group of girls," Walack said. "The tone in practice is great, even though we're all learning, but they're all willing to learn. This group is working hard and has set some high goals, but they also know we've got a lot of work to do."
Only one player - senior setter Tarianna Lawrence - is a returning starter from a season which saw the Cardinals finish 6-13 overall and 6-12 in the 3A Western Slope League, good for a tie with Basalt for sixth place in the league standings. The league will have a different look this season, as Hotchkiss drops down a classification and is replaced by Moffat County, which drops down from Class 4A. Defending league champion Olathe, along with Gunnison and Roaring Fork, are considered favorites again this year.
"The gap has closed" between the top teams in the league and the rest of the league, Walack said. He feels his team has the potential to challenge for a postseason spot.
Walack feels Lawrence personifies the keys to the Cardinals' success this season, which the coach said will be his team's scrappy play and its ability to extend plays.
Grand Valley's height comes from sophomore middle hitter Korrie Hurt and fellow sophomore middle hitter Jordan Scott, both 5-foot-9. Senior right-side hitter Lyndsey Anderson, along with sophomore outside hitter Kyra Chenoweth, help complete the Cardinals' front line. Also expected to make an impact this year are junior setter Codi Metcalf and senior libero Desi McGee.
The Cardinals open the season at the Glenwood Springs Invitational tournament on Friday.