By MEL SUITER
Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. --- The journey for Pasco-Hernando State College volleyball started way back in the hot month of August and for the Bobcats, the trip has sometimes been smooth as silk and there have been times when there has been some uncharacteristic rough patches.
Pasco-Hernando State College volleyball coach Deann Newton expected that, but she was wondering just how her team would be able to manage the adversity of a long volleyball season.
Her team did handle the adversity of Wednesday night Oct. 16, at home inside the Gymnasium against Lake Sumter State College. The Bobcats defeated the Hawks 3-1, keeping both teams tied in the Sun Lake Conference of the Florida College System Activities Association.
Newton said that it is a long season to complete but there are still some competitive games with some talented teams. At this time of the season and with the end of the schedule so close, it is all about peaking at the right time and playing the best volleyball of the season.
“We’ve been running into different offenses all year and it has been a challenge for us to find a rotation that will click and will work. I think we found it at the right time of the season,” Newton said. “ We’ve been talking all season since the first day of practice in August. We have to peak at the end. The season prepares us for the end, there is only one team coming out of here.”
There are just four games left in the regular season remaining on the schedule before the conference tournament and Newton is pleased with her team’s position. She said that the conference has a lot of good teams and that they are bunched together, it will be an exciting tournament.
“Everybody is beating everybody,” Newton said. “There are six teams in the conference and anybody can win it, every match, you don’t know who is going to win.”
Lake Sumter State College came out in the first game and forced the Bobcats into mishitting the ball into the net. When the Bobcats were serving the ball, there were too many serves that were long and skipped out beyond the end line.
In between game one and game two, Newton had a chance to talk to her team, asked them to take a deep breath, relax and then put sophomore outside hitter Arianna Colon to give her defense some height at the net.
Colon forced the Hawks' offense to start to get the ball up in the air and long, because she was having an impact with her blocking attempts at the net.
Newton said after the game, with a killing percentage of .412 against the Hawks, freshman middle hitter, Olivia Jones' effort against the Hawks was infectious with her teammates.
“She had an outstanding game tonight,” Newton said. “We’ve been working with her all season, hoping that she would peak at the end. She was a difference maker, she has a hang time.”
Newton said she likes this part of the season with the end of the regular season schedule so close, teams still trying to get a high seed for the tournament, but she is quick to remind her players that there is still plenty of work ahead for the Bobcats. They need to keep their focus and not overlook any opponent.
The Florida College System Activity Association Volleyball Tournament-Sun Lake Conference is scheduled to begin Saturday November 2 on the campus of South Florida State College located in Avon Park, Florida.
With the season wrapping up, Newton and her team will finish the season that will include a night honoring the sophomore on the team, Wednesday October 22 against Hillsborough Community College starting at 6 p.m. It should be an emotional night for the six sophomores that have sweated, cried and bled for the Bobcats.
If Pasco-Hernando State College can find any success during the upcoming tournament, if they can stay a little longer than planned all the hard work that started way back in the dog days of summer. It will be worth all of the bruises and blisters acquired by her players and the hard work will be appreciated and the annoying injuries will not hurt as much with a trophy in front of them.
At the first team meeting next August, it might be nice for Newton when she talks about peaking at the right time with her new team. A visual aid might help for example - the 2019 Florida College System Activity Association Volleyball Championship Trophy would help her be able to get her message across to the new players arriving for the Bobcats.