YUCCA VALLEY — Coach Tammy Rhodes has been working with the Trojan volleyball players to tamp down on errors and ramp up the aggression, and she was pleased with the results Thursday afternoon. The Yucca Valley High School varsity team beat the Desert Hot Springs Golden Eagles 3-0.
“Our theme this season is ‘All In,’” Rhodes said after the victory. “I’ve asked for more effort from them, more heart and more aggression.”
The Trojans showed that aggression at the start of the match, rocketing through the first set to a 25-9 win. They won the second by the skin of their teeth, 25-23, as the Eagles zeroed in on some weak points and dialed up their attack.
Rhodes kept the mood light in the huddle before the third set, laughingly telling the girls, “We win this next set and I’m going to wipe clean all the errors you were going to be running for at next practice.”
She sent them out with the words, “Have fun, play hard.”
Senior captain Annie Hilderbrand started things off with two ace serves, followed by a tip and an ace for two more points by senior Evalynn Large. The girls kept up their concentration and limited their errors, getting to 23-16. Junior Loryn Brimhall pushed them up to 24-16 with an ace serve and did it one more time to seal the victory, 25-16.
Hilderbrand chalked up a lot of the victory to that heart and aggression Rhodes has been talking about.
“We communicated more on the court,” she said after the win. “We’re very bonded as a team off the court, but we brought it onto the court today.”
They were also more hyped up, especially coming out of their pre-game ritual in the lockers, she said. “Our intensity this game was a lot higher than it has been.”
Rhodes said they’ve also been working on the discipline to play consistently through the roller-coaster ride of your average volleyball match.
“This is a game of mental toughness and momentum,” she said. “You can win one game and then lose the next and you have to have your mind trained to stay focused.”
It’s clear she believes in the girls’ ability to drill down and succeed. “We have a great group of girls. They all have a heart of gold,” she said.
“Whatever I say, they’re like, ‘Yes, coach.’ And they do it.”
Brimhall served seven aces on the afternoon and Hilderbrand had five.
Freshman Stacie Alexander sent eight kills over the net and Large chipped in six.
Hilderbrand led in assists with 35 and senior libero Ella Villamero had 19 digs.
New rotations, no problem for JV
The junior varsity Trojans opened up the afternoon with 25-16 and 25-22 victories.
“I think our biggest improvement was not letting the ball hit the ground,” coach Celeste Hilderbrand said. “They were much more aggressive in their play.”
Hilderbrand was especially impressed because they had just changed rotations.
“The fact they won doing new rotations was outstanding,” she said.
“Our servers were incredible. We had multiple players with multiple aces.
Junior captains Brianna Etter and Amanda Cruz each served three aces and sophomore Peyton Cressy had two ace serves.