Inexperience challenges Lady Clippers
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Fri., Sep. 28, 2012
When the Putnam High School Clippers took on the Norwich Tech Warriors in a volleyball game on Sept. 27 in Putnam, they lost the first match by only three points. Clipper coach Curt Hull considers Norwich Tech to be one of the strongest teams in the Constitution State Conference. To stay close to the Warriors, Putnam had to play its best. But between the end of the first match and the beginning of the second, something took the wind out of the players' sails.
“It was as though the girls had lost 25-1,” Hull said. “It's a psychological thing I'm trying to get the girls over.”
The Clippers are a young, inexperienced team whose starting lineup includes two freshmen and one sophomore. The freshmen had never touched a volleyball before the start of this season, but their athleticism put them in the lineup. “They're learning on the fly,” Hull said. Seven seniors are listed on the roster, but several of those have never played the game either. So while the Clippers may look experienced on paper, they are not.
Practices focus on serving, setting and hitting, but also on morale, being honest with their teammates and establishing belief in themselves. “It's hard,” Hull said. “It's a continual pep talk, whether it be during school or at practice. I talk to them about their grades or how they're doing in classes, how they have to do the best they can every day and not give up, and know that if they put their effort into it, they'll succeed.”
Kaylee Shippee could be the poster girl for not giving up. She is the Clippers' go-to setter, an amazingly aggressive player who never quits, according to Hull. “I think she could set on any team. If you put her on a team with three or four experienced seniors, she'd run an offense that you wouldn't believe,” he said.
“We're our own challenge,” Hull said. “They hope too much. They can't hope they make the next pass. They have to know they'll make the next pass.”