BEAVERTON – Beaverton volleyball probably has the highest external expectations among Gladwin County teams this fall. The Beavers made it all the way to Battle Creek for the Division 3 semi-finals last season and return most of the team. “We will not talk about Battle Creek in August,” said Coach Steve Evans. “We set our goals, but then we don’t talk about them. We talk about the things that we think we should focus on.”
Evans mentioned that they have a strong culture and it has been ingrained that the next game is the most important. You can’t get to Battle Creek in August, September or October so there is no reason to talk about it. He thinks that teams that talk about it early look too far ahead and end up focusing on the wrong things. “We would love to do what we did last year, but it is going to be even harder. We are not the same team. We have different players and the chemistry will be different.”
One thing that Evans is confident in is his teams’ culture. One of the important ways in which that manifests itself is in the way the girls take ownership of the team. The opening practice on August 12 was the first event that Evans had to organize, but that did not mean it was the first time the girls had worked out. Most of them had been posting their workouts online all summer encouraging one another to do the same. They had also gotten together at various times to play volleyball. “I told them that it is on you,” said Evans. “Its hard to organize something because of all of the protocols.” The girls stepped up and got things done.
While most of the team returns two regulars will be missing this year. Libero Macie Jerome and defensive specialist Averie Bassage graduated leaving a couple of big holes to fill. The Beavers will be led once again by outside hitter, Molly Gerow and setter, Mady Pahl. Middle hitters, Becca Wirt and Faith Danielak return along with regulars Hannah Sterns, Alexis Grove and serve specialist, Logan Matthews. With all of the returning players and some talented newcomers, the competition for positions and playing time will be tough.
“We try not to set everything in stone,” said Evans. “We let all our positions play out. You have new kids that have grown and worked hard in the offseason. You never know who is going to get better.” The coaching staff lets the players know that they decide who starts based on the way they practice and perform in games.
Like Gladwin and all the other teams not part of Region 6 or 8 Beaverton started the season outdoors. They created two courts in the grass outside of the gym and hauled their equipment outside. Even though it was a minor inconvenience, Evans and the girls were glad to be back on the court. “Its great outside,” said Evans. “We like being out in the sun. This time of year we are usually trapped in a gym where there is no air movement and the floors are slippery.”
It’s a new season with a very different feel, but one thing seems certain. The Beavers should be one of the favorites in the Jack Pine Conference and they will probably have a lot to talk about come November.