Two of the Buccaneers' top players, Bella Truxall and Alexa Wilson, starred as freshmen last season.
Mainland’s volleyball team has six seniors on the squad, but head coach Lauren Valle believes the team is “young-minded.”
The majority of the girls on the team aren’t involved with club volleyball, so they don’t play year-round.
“That’s kind of been our struggle here at Mainland High School,” Valle said after the Buccaneers’ 3-2 win over Deltona on the night of Tuesday, Aug. 27. “We don’t typically get a lot of club kids coming this way. But we have athletes and we train as such. We train hard, and I’m really proud of our girls. I’m really proud of our junior varsity program, too. They buy into it.”
Although many of the girls aren’t involved with the sport year-round, the Buccaneers’ leaders are.
Sophomores Alexa Wilson and Bella Truxall, who were both some of the top players on the team last season, both star for Port Orange Volleyball’s club team.
“It makes me feel stronger and more confident as a player,” said Wilson, who was one of the top hitters in the area her freshman year at Mainland. “I have a higher court-IQ because of it. It’s a different experience with a different level of play that helps us come the high school season.”
Having players like Wilson and Truxall has proven invaluable for Valle and her team.
“When you have athletes who play 10 to 11 months out of the year, instead of three months out of the year, obviously the growth can be exponential,” she said. “Overall, you have to stay in-shape. When you’re in-shape, it’s much easier to pick up a ball and start where you left off. It’s really hard when you come back out of shape and we have to spend that much more time getting you in shape instead of teaching you the game and getting the team dynamics going.”
Last season, the Buccaneers finished 11-10 and concluded the season with a 3-0 loss to Father Lopez on Oct. 16, 2018, in the district tournament.
This season, the Buccaneers set the goal of being one of the top teams in the area. To do that, they want to feature the best defense in the area.
“Last year, we realized we could have been better than we were,” Wilson said. “Now, we’re running harder, lifting harder, training harder. We know that we can be better than we were last year.”