FREMONT – Every team needs an identity.
Some can get by with high levels of skill. Others plant their flag on defense and dare you to beat it.
When she took over the Fremont Ross volleyball program, first-year coach Lindi Cahill wanted her team to carve out an identity for itself.
The Lady Giants are young, with just two seniors, having lost seven letter-winners from a year ago, and have a large collection of sophomores and inexperienced juniors. So, what kind of identity could Ross make for itself?
It didn’t take long for Cahill to realize one asset the Lady Giants had in abundance: toughness.
“I had the opportunity to be around them a lot this summer because I asked them to make a commitment to the weight room and they did that. They were very committed to the weight room,” Cahill said.
“They’re tough. They’re unafraid of doing hard work. We talk a lot about what kind of identity we want to have. They’re really trying to live up to being scrappy, hard-nosed and being smarter volleyball players. I really enjoy being in the gym with them.”
Ross opened the season Saturday with a 3-1 win at Fostoria, 25-21, 13-25, 25-21, 25-21 then opened its home schedule Monday with a 3-0 loss to Tiffin Columbian, 20-25, 20-25, 16-25.
Though Columbian possessed the edge in physical ability, Ross played the Tornadoes close, particularly in the first two sets, which were evenly-played, back-and-forth battles decided not by skill level but just a few too many unforced errors on Ross’ part.
“Tonight was really a perfect example of what we want our culture to be,” Cahill said. “We played a very athletic Columbian team, we probably don’t match up with them very well athletically, but our chemistry on the floor never suffered from that. The things I told the kids after the match were that I was proud of how they talked to each other the entire match, never got snippy with each other. They were trying to find ways to be successful no matter what the scoreboard said and stay positive and stay working.”
The Lady Giant attack was led by hitter Hayley Lawrence and setter Izzy Held, the teams only seniors, who are leading the team in more ways than just attacking during a match.
“I met with all the kids, and I told Hayley she’s going to have to do a lot,” Cahill said. “I’ve got great leadership. She is one of two seniors, with Izzy Held. They do a lot for us on and off the floor. I feel pretty fortunate they are on our roster this year.
“We’re really young. Very young,” Cahill added. “At any given time tonight we had four sophomores on the court and two juniors who’d never played varsity volleyball before.”
Despite the team’s youth and the program’s players and new coaching staff still getting acquainted with one another, Cahill believes the Lady Giants are capable of turning some heads and getting the program heading in the right direction. So long as it remains true to its identity.
“I still think we can win games,” Cahill said. “I can’t put a number on it, but if we can continue battling the way we do, we’re going to do things to raise our volleyball IQ and we’re going to surprise some people. I don’t think Tiffin expected us to play this hard tonight. If I were a betting woman, I’d say they probably didn’t expect us to score 15 points in any set and we did every set. I think we’ll surprise some people.”