Putnam High prepares for volleyball season

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Tue., Sep. 13, 2011
Caitlyn Verrette passes as she and Brandie Masztal play in a two-man drill. Photos by D. Coffey.
Caitlyn Verrette passes as she and Brandie Masztal play in a two-man drill. Photos by D. Coffey.

Putnam High School volleyball coach Curt Hall watched from the sidelines as his players practiced their serves over and over again. He and assistant coach Michelle Gaimari had a week and a half to get the team ready for their first game with Cheney Tech on Sept. 21. Tropical storm Irene had pushed them behind schedule with their practices. Paperwork had kept some players out of practice, but by the time the season starts, Hall expects to field 12 players.

Hall recently put his players through a serve-receive drill. He made them run touch-threes. “Come on, ladies, dig it out,” he said, spurring his players on faster. “Come on. Dig it out.” He also put them through what he called a “Queen of the Court” drill.

“We have a lot of juniors, but only two seniors,” Hall said. “A large number of players are coming back, which is a good thing for a coach. And those juniors and seniors have been playing since they were freshmen. It's a small group, but we have a good experience level here.”

Hall is counting on captain Valentina Zaytseva to be the anchor for the team. Channing Jones should be a major contributor, as should Kaylee Shippee, who was out last year with an ankle injury.

“I would say passing might be one of our strengths,” Hall said. “Most of the ladies who are not hitters or setters are passing pretty well.”

The Clippers lost a senior setter last year, and this year the team is trying to find a replacement. “The JV setters never got a lot of touches on the ball last year,” Hall said. He is trying to develop juniors Zandelee Van Niekerk and Shippee into players who can fill that position for the team.

Jones passes well, but is also a hitter, according to Hall. And Zaytseva is an excellent passer, he said. “She plays all the way around. In a school this size, they need to be able to play the front and back court,” Hall said. “You're forced to play all the positions. It makes you versatile.”

The other players will need to find their roles.

As the girls gathered up their belongings and headed home, the coach called out, “Remember. Eight a.m. practice tomorrow morning, ladies!”


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