Perry girls conquering in beach volleyball SanTan Sun News

Perry girls conquering in beach volleyball

April 10th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Perry girls conquering in beach volleyball
Sports and Recreation
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By ERIC NEWMAN Staff

The Perry High School beach volleyball team has started out the season as hot as the sand it plays on. As of earlier this week, the Pumas are 10-1 and are looking like one of the best teams in Arizona, looking forward to a chance to end the season with a deep playoff run.

With a collection of talented players from Perry’s indoor volleyball team and a few beach-only girls that are looking to play throughout the season, either to keep in shape for future high school or college seasons, or just to sharpen their skills, it appeared coach Fred Mann had a plethora of great athletes to choose from in February.

However, when Mann was beginning to put together a roster at the start of the season, he was not even sure what girls would sign up for the team.

“There’s so much else going on. For those kids who are indoor players, they’ve got their indoor clubs, and other volleyball matches and practices. And there are beach players who have their own clubs, too. You’re just hoping that you’ll get them out, but you’re never sure,” he said.

With many of his young players dealing with commitments to independent club teams, and vying for eventual scholarships and roster spots on college volleyball teams, he said the key to persuading the players to continue with the Pumas is flexibility.

He said several girls miss many of the team’s practices, and even a handful of matches, but that he tries to let the players balance their own schedules, as long as they are around when necessary.

“We don’t stress them out about it (attendance), and we tell them we understand that if you’ve got an indoor commitment, that takes priority,” he said. “If you can’t make it out to a match we’re not going to kick them off or anything, and that is good for them. We just hope their coaches are a little more flexible when the playoffs are here.”

Senior Halle Razo was part of the 2017 Perry indoor volleyball team, which reached the semifinals of the AIA 6A playoffs, and decided to play her first-ever season with the beach volleyball team in 2018.

Like her, many of the team’s seniors signed up to make one last run with teammates and coaches that have been along for their four-year ride.

“I like just doing it in my free time and I really like coach (Mann) and the girls on the team, so that’s why I wanted to play this year,” she said. “It’s sometimes hard with indoor, but I think it’s worth it because we’re really good so far, and I think we have a chance to win state.”

It is not hard to see why the Perry girls are happy to play with one-another on sand courts, getting a chance to play the sport they love, but it is not always easy to transition to the beach from an indoor gym.

Senior Ryann Davis, who is committed to NAU’s volleyball team next school year, said sand volleyball is different than the indoor game, with a lot more small, fast-tempo shots to try and out-maneuver opponents, because neither team can move as well in the sand.

However, she said the game is still similar in a lot of ways, and that the technical skills and hitting ability of Perry have led, and can lead the girls to, future success.

“My volleyball smarts, and the other girls too, they still transfer over, because the game isn’t completely different, you’re essentially doing the same thing. Everyone has a lot of skill on this team,” she said.

As for the remaining schedule, Perry had just one match in the regular season against one of the state’s top teams, an April 13 contest versus defending-champion Xavier Prep.

However, Razo is confident the Pumas’ overall ability will make up for the lack of experience the girls have this season against the toughest opponents to come in the playoffs.

“We haven’t played many of the top teams so far, so we don’t really know what’s coming,” she said, “but we’ll prepare as much as possible and just see what happens, and I think we have a shot.”

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