The Buccaneers’ starting lineup is the youngest head coach Lauren Valle has had in her three years with the team.
In Lauren Valle’s first two seasons as the head coach of Mainland’s girls volleyball, Valle tried to give all the players on her roster equal playing time. The Buccaneers went below .500 both years and failed to advance past the first round of the postseason.
As a result, the Buccaneers’ 2018 starting lineup is the youngest Valle has ever had entering her third year with the team.
“When you’re not able to compete, it takes a toll,” Valle said. “This year, the mindset is for us to focus on what’s best for the program, what’s best for the team.”
Despite their youth, many of the Buccaneers’ underclassmen are seasoned athletes.
In the Buccaneers’ four-set win over Atlantic on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 4, Mainland was led by its freshman outside hitter Alexa Wilson, who has been playing volleyball for five years. She played throughout middle school and also plays club for Port Orange Volleyball.
“We are very young, but we’re growing. We’ve got a good, strong JV behind us, too. We’ve got some depth in our program. In years past, we didn’t have that. I think it’s just going to get better and better each year.”
Mainland head coach Lauren Valle
Wilson slammed down a game-high 12 kills against the Sharks.
“They know the game very well, and they help the older girls with the aspect of the game,” Valle said of the underclassmen.
However, Valle added that some members of the team haven’t been as invested in volleyball over the past few years.
“Mainland is one of those schools where we’ve got a lot of athletes, but unfortunately, a lot of these girls don’t come out till they’re older,” she said. “Volleyball is a unique sport where if you didn’t start very young, it’s hard sometimes to catch on. We can get good athletes, but it’s really the commitment they put into the game.
“To actually be good and to be a leader in this district, these girls are going to have to put in more time and effort.”