WARRENSBURG - New Warrensburg High School Volleyball coach Stephanie Gordon stood inside a semi-circle of her cheering players and slammed a series of volleyballs down toward student Chanel Barboza, who lurched for one after another. She sent several of them flying.
"Way to go, that's what we like to see," Gordon yelled as she pounded another ball in the vicinity of Barboza's outstretched arms.
The practice routine, called "The Pit," is one of many that Gordon has instituted to build her player's basic instincts, along with instilling team spirit, she said.
"It's one method we an effective way we get them to 'face the fear,'" she said.
For years, Warrensburg's volleyball program has been languishing - a situation that Gordon is determined to turn around. She took over the coaching role this year from her sister Tressa Gordon Cintora.
"We're definitely going to be attacking from now on," she said. "Hopefully, were going to make a name for ourselves."
Gordon said that Kirsten Bentham, a strong middle hitter, will play a key role in the season's outcome. Bentham and fellow Seniors Ashley Trapasso, Brittany Schwindt, Allyssa Ferraro and Demi Iverson will need to provide leadership for the group, which has a large number of younger players.
"Kirsten is a strong middle hitter, she's scrappy and athletic, and an all-around great player," Cintora said.
Joining these Seniors are experienced Juniors Ashlee Leary and Chanel Barboza and returning Sophomore Cheyenne Palmateer.
"We have a lot of developing talent," Gordon said, mentioning the particular potential of Autumn Smith."We're hoping for some good stuff this year."
Backing up Gordon in coaching will be Jessica Ryan, who recently played college volley ball at Mount St. Vincent.
Ryan is charged with developing skills at the Modified and Junior Varsity levels, so in future years, players can pursue the more advanced aspects of the sport.
Ryan said instruction with the 2009 Varsity squad would be concentrating on basic skills, form and teamwork.
"I definitely see their determination," she said. "It seems like they really want to be on the court - they're excited about the season."