Collinsville volleyball

The Collinsville Lady Pirates normally play in the Saint Jo volleyball tournament this time of year, but that tournament was canceled. They could have taken the time to practice, but head coach Melissa Johnson didn’t want to miss the opportunity to gain the early-season benefits of tournaments, so she signed the Lady Pirates up for a tournament at Denton Ryan.

One downside of playing in this tournament is the teams playing in it were at least two classifications higher than the Class 2A Collinsville.

Still, Johnson said they weren’t going to miss a chance to gain experience and work on their chemistry.

“I’ve got some new faces on the team who are trying to get used to the speed, whether they’re transitioning into varsity as a freshman or they’re just coming out of junior high and transitioning to JV,” Johnson said. “I’m looking to get better for district and not necessarily come and win a tournament. You can’t simulate competing against different teams. We’re looking at what can we do to make our game better? What can we incorporate? What do we need to work on?”

Johnson said she is still in the middle of her process of putting a rotation together and that is from a wide range of players.

“We’re meshing four seniors together, a couple of freshmen and then a few juniors and a sophomore,” Johnson said. “We’re just figuring out where our chemistry is and seeing what our roles are. Conditioning wise, I don’t feel like we need to get more jump-roping in or more bleachers in. It’s just meshing new girls together and seeing a different speed of the ball that the majority of them are not used to.”

Despite dropping games to Denison, Aubrey and Red Oak, Johnson said after the final game of the day Thursday, Aug. 8, that she wanted her team to quickly turn its attention to Friday’s slate of games.

“I’m not frustrated with them at all,” Johnson said. “As the head coach here going on three years, I know my players. The frustration I see is because they have such a love and a passion that they want to do better and really, they’re just learning,”

Johnson said one area the Lady Pirates will focus on in the near future is defense at the net.

“Our weakness this year is going to be blocking and that comes with experience as far as where’s the set, reading the hands, reading the shoulders, reading the set, communicating up on the net and then getting your timing down to get that block,” Johnson said. “That’s something that that we can work at this tournament, especially when you see different levels of setting. It’s about developing gross motor skills.”

Collinsville will travel to Chico Tuesday, Aug. 13 with JV beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip