Energy high in V-cats’ camp

Ignacio senior Cloe Seibel
Ignacio senior Angela Herrera
From an intentionally elevated vantage point, Ignacio senior Cloe Seibel (left) works on placing a tip shot after being tossed the ball by head coach Thad Cano (center), as sophomore Ellie Seibel watches at right during preseason practice inside IHS Gymnasium.
Ignacio senior Angela Herrera leaps to attack during preseason practice inside IHS Gymnasium, as sophomore Chrystianne Valdez observes at rear.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Temporary numbers on their backs identified returning Volleycats and newcomers vying for roster spots, going through drill after drill during two-a-days inside IHS Gymnasium.

And enthusiasm wasn’t lacking; the afternoon session Thursday, Aug. 15, for instance, saw freshmen Alejandra Lujan and Isis Gonzalez in the gym 50 minutes before the scheduled 3:30 p.m. start working on everything from running jump serves to blocking in sync from one side of the strings to the other.

It began long before Thad Cano, looking to find more of the fire that fueled Ignacio’s breakout 2012, or any of his assistants were in the place. At 3:18, Lujan forcibly opened one of the venue’s doors out to the parking lot, allowing entry to roughly 10 early Cats, and shouts quickly arose and increased as pick-up teams were divvied up for some impromptu scrimmaging before the action ordered by the boss.

“I’m just tickled,” he later said during a team water break. “Yesterday we’d been here five hours, and three of them came up and asked if we could hit balls at ’em for a little while longer.  So we stayed another 30 minutes. … Five-and-a-half hours! And here we are again!”

New junior-varsity coach Melanie Seibel took roll of all attendees and Cano, with an intended degree of foreboding in his voice, said to the team trainer, “Kolin [Tomlinson], they’re all yours.”

Two-and-a-half hours later, with the end of Week 1 becoming visible in the distance, command of the crew was transferred to Sage Frane, also new to the coaching staff for ’13, for an unusual cool-down: yoga, reducing the practice’s intensity to a near-meditative silence.

“We’re only four days in,” Cano said, observing the players’ stillness, “but I couldn’t be happier.”

For both the present as well as the future: Setter Cloe Seibel, libero Angela Herrera and middle Cheyenne Cook are the only now-seniors returning from last fall’s 15-9 State hopefuls, but a wave of underclassmen led by varsity veterans Miel Diaz, Ellie Seibel and Chrystianne Valdez appears ready and willing to develop in Cano’s system.

The middle could quickly turn into a focal point of the team, with the skipper noting several younger, taller players like Jerica Jackson looking to impact the selection of varsity, JV and C squads.

“I probably won’t have my roster until Wednesday [Aug. 21],” he said. “I’m still not sure what I’m going to do! Their initiative…it’s just awesome.”

Ignacio’s season will begin with an Aug. 29 trip to Kirtland, N.M., to face the Kirtland Central Lady Broncos (8-13, 2-4 Dist. 1-4A in ’12), but will then pause until the Cats begin 2A/1A San Juan Basin League play at Dove Creek on Sept. 10.

Ignacio’s home opener follows on Sept. 13 with Telluride coming to town, and Norwood visits the following morning for the second of two strong early-season tests.

Also on the slate at present is an Oct. 15 trip to 3A Bayfield — being led this season by former Ignacio head coach Terene Foutz — with a non-league triangular following on Oct. 19 in Center against CHS and Moffat/Saguache Mountain Valley.

The Volleycats’ regular season then ends at home against 3A Pagosa Springs on Oct. 22.

 

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