One year removed from losing its setter, who Flagtvedt referred to as “the quarterback of the team,” juniors Cassy Walsh and Annie Braun are fighting to take over as the new signal caller. Braun was the backup setter last year.
With the Raiders’ leadership or leader left anonymous before the season opener Friday in the 23rd Annual Las Vegas Invitational Women’s Volleyball Tournament, fourth-year starter Moriah Maluotoga, an outside hitter, could assume the role of head honcho.
Maluotoga earned Honorable
Mention recognition her freshman year and second-team honors her sophomore season before joining the first-team last fall.
“She’s really looking at how she wants to lead the team,” Flagtvedt said. “I think she’s really stepped it up during practice, getting the girls to play as a team.”
Each season presents varying road blocks, but the 2013 season has welcomed the Raiders with road spikes.
One of the team’s four seniors, middle blocker Madison Funk, was diagnosed with mononucleosis or mono and missed school all of last week. Flagtvedt said there is no timetable for her return but optimistically hopes Funk is into the second week of the illness, which she was told could take up to six weeks to recover from.
“Maddie [Funk] is a huge part of our team as a returning middle. Having that hole there is tough.”
Junior Samantha Bailey is expected to fill Funk’s void.
The recent smoke and poor air quality in the region has only added insult to illness. The team has been sharing the gym with the football team and the soccer teams that have been forced inside by the smoke.
“It’s hard because we definitely need the gym to do our stuff. (Sharing facilities) isn’t something we all want. It’s just something we have to deal with and make sure each of us has a chance.”
The volleyball team’s practice was cut short Monday because of a scheduling conflict with the gym, but despite the now revolving door that is the gym’s, Flagtvedt said the teams are not butting heads.
With the shortened practice, the team used the rest of its practice time to set goals. The players wrote them on individual pieces of paper that now hang in the team’s locker room.
“I think that was beneficial because we were all able to get on the same page.”
Athletic Director Ron Coombs has taken over the title of gym scheduler. Flagtvedt applauded his efforts.
If Reed is able to jump the 2013 campaign over the road spikes (build a jump perhaps?) Flagtvedt said her goals for the team are simple. One year after finishing as a regional semifinalist and two years after finishing state runner-up, she is not solely focused on shaking the “runner-up” title.
“Just to definitely gel as a team. Obviously with girls teams, the less drama the better. Just playing hard every single game, we have, I think a tough side this year so there is not a game where you can just not play 100 percent.”
But even the humble-speaking coach could not help but mention the postseason.
“Obviously you want to go to regionals and do well there, but that is definitely a long term goal.”
And speaking of tough sides, cross-town foe Spanish Springs, brought home the state title last fall. But with a grin, Flagtvedt sincerely said there are no feelings of animosity toward the Raiders’ rival.
“The seniors they had on that team were phenomenal … In their case I think the best team did win. They were a really good team.”
Spanish Springs won both matches against Reed last season. With a defending state champion thrown into the inter-Sparks rivalry, the Reed-Spanish Springs matchups could become must-see.
“The motivation is always there just because they are our rivals, and probably a little more so because yeah, you want to beat the team that won state the year before.”
Reed plays at Spanish Springs Oct. 8 before hosting the defending champs Oct. 31 in what could be a meeting with substantial playoff implications.
In preparation for the Cougars, and the four other teams that happen to be in the High Desert League, several of the Raiders have participated in club volleyball as well as open gyms. The open gyms were used to help girls work on timing while they played on varying teams.
For the fourth straight year, according to Flagtvedt, the team participated in conditioning workouts at the Elite Boxing Club in Reno. The workout facility is run by former University of Nevada-Reno volleyball player Ashley Smith. And it is working.
“I have noticed since we have been doing it consistently, when we get to four of five game matches, I just don’t see that we look as fatigued as we did before we started.”