2013 KHQA BARNSTORM TOUR: LADY PIRATES RETURN WITH CORE NUCLEUS INTACT, BIGGER EXPECTATIONS
Gabbie Wiley: "You know there is only three returning varsity (players) We are all the same age so we have grown up together. Or chemistry will hopefully take us further.
Melanie Blase:"That Leadership is in every aspect of our practice. We start the drills. We finish the drills. We really try to work together as a team and help everybody know that they are part of the team. The girls that didn't play varsity last year came up kind of scared; not knowing what their role was and I think Coach, Gabbie, Brooke and I have helped people know that they are part of the team and that they are just as important as any of the returning players are."
The Gabbie/Melanie/Brooklyn Faction is all that remains from a District Finalist Squad that won 25 games last Fall. That nucleus will be called upon again to mask certain "design flaws" in the Hannibal roster. Limited experience for one. And certainly, a lack of ideal size.
Melanie Blase: "We have to play like we are big but we know we are not. So we have to work out like we are small but play like we are 6'5" even though we know that we obviously aren't."
Brooklyn Watson: "Yeah, we are not very tall. Our tallest player is like 5'9" maybe so we always have to try to get something under the ball. Our biggest thing is defense. We are very strong in that. We always have been so we need to keep that up."
Melanie Blase: "We have to hustle to every ball, especially me being a Middle Blocker. I'm 5'9" everyone asks me if I am going to play in college. Those girls are like 6'6" There is no way but I try to get my jump work out in, raise my vertical. Get my arms up there and hope something hits them."
Gabbie Wiley: "Athleticism is a huge thing on our team. I think that hustling is our main goal in everything we do, so when the ball is coming to us so somebody; a hand, a foot, anything is there for us."
And in an effort to maximize their strengths and build upon the considerable win in the program's sails, the 2013 Lady Pirates will now employ a new 6-2 scheme.
Brooklyn Watson: "When you play a 5-1 you have to have good setter who is a blocker. And since we aren't very tall we need that other blocker as a hitter who can go in for her just so that we can have that extra touch on the ball on Defense."
Melanie Blase: "I think we can be better this season or even the same. I think we can be better because we know what we have up against us. Last year, we were coming in as returning District Champions and we kind of let that get to our heads a little bit. And we had to throw Helias into our District and that just kind of tossed everything around. Now we know what to expect. We know that they are not going to look at us the same this year and we just have to work harder. Everyone loves the Underdog Story."