Productive offseason helps make up for lack of varsity experience
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The varsity volleyball team from Grayling High School doesn’t have a lot of experience at the varsity level, but the program had a strong and productive offseason, and the squad is getting ready for its first tournaments of the season, one of which is slated for this week.
“We’re bringing back four with varsity experience last year; three played significant minutes,” Coach Tim Zigila said. “The good news is, I have some kids who played JV and started or played significant roles on JV.”
Coach Zigila said three players also played AAU volleyball during the offseason.
“That’s adding another layer of experience,” Coach Zigila said.
The offseason also included an all-American camp with Big Ten players as instructors.
“That was really well attended,” Coach Zigila said.
The Vikings also went to Ferris State University for a team camp in mid-July.
“It was real intense. Two days of play and instruction. It was nice because they assigned us two coaches. I think that was a good experience,” Coach Zigila said.
Grayling got to play against several different teams. The camp had squads from Class A schools, Class B, Class C, Coach Zigila said.
“We played a variety of teams. There was a lot of real good teams,” Coach Zigila said. “I thought we played well.”
The offseason for the Vikings also included scrimmages vs. Roscommon and Gaylord and Mio, and open gym sessions in June.
“The scrimmages were good,” Coach Zigila said. “Mio has some real nice players. Gaylord and Roscommon were real good scrimmages.”
“I felt like we really worked the kids this summer,” Coach Zigila said.
The hard work carried over into the first few practice sessions of the 2017 season last week.
“It’s been intense,” Coach Zigila said. “Two days of try-outs. It was real intense. We put them through a lot of drills. I felt like we just got after it.”
Coach Zigila said the players showed a lot of commitment during the summer offseason.
“I’m very proud of the effort all the girls put in, from the seniors to the freshmen,” Coach Zigila said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids.”
Coach Zigila said he’s trying to maintain the hard work but allowing for fun as well.
“We’re going to keep things intense but also keep it light, to not burn the girls out,” Coach Zigila said.
The Lake Michigan Conference? Coach Zigila expects Grayling’s league schedule to be a challenge again this year.
“Expect the conference to be tough, as usual,” Coach Zigila said. “That whole northwest side of the state is tough in volleyball. Traverse City St. Francis is tough, Boyne will be good, Elk will be good. It just seems like that whole Traverse area is good for volleyball.”
“I think we’ll place well in the league,” Coach Zigila said. “I think we’ll be okay, but it’ll be work.”
The Vikings will have a different group of teams in their district this year. Grayling is in District 62-B, a group that will feature Gladwin, Harrison, Standish-Sterling Central, Tawas, and Ogemaw Heights.
“That’ll be a change for us, teams we don’t see,” Coach Zigila said.
The squad’s goals for the 2017 season: 1) have a “strongly bonded team,” 2) “work hard, play hard,” 3) “good communication.”
“I know the kids want to build off the success softball had with districts,” Coach Zigila said.
The Vikings will play in the Roscommon Summer Slam on Friday, August 18. The team will play at Lake City on Wednesday, August 23. On Tuesday, August 29, the JV and varsity volleyball squads from GHS will host Boyne City.