After two years of seeing his program improve, Iowa head volleyball coach Grant Anderson decided they were ready for some big tests, and loaded the Yellow Jackets schedule with quality opponents.
So far his squad has proven to be up to the challenge, starting the season with a 10-5 record and wins over Barbe, Sulphur and Sam Houston. This week is the toughest on the schedule, as the Jackets played Lafayette Christian, a Division V semifinalist, Monday, will host St. Louis at 6 p.m. today and has another match against Division I Acadiana later this week.
"We intentionally scheduled tough these first weeks, we like challenging our kids," Anderson said. "They have worked hard and shown a lot of promise the last few years. We wanted to challenge them, give them an idea of where we might be headed. So far have been excellent. We have excellent leadership, they all know their roles. The play hard, they play for each other, with each other and because of each other."
Anderson said improved serving and passing has created more chances for his team to finish points.
"We challenge them every day to serve well and to have ball control, we have worked on those things every day for three years," he said. "We have vastly improved because they kids have been dedicated to working hard at it. We have been getting a lot more swings than in the past and the girls have been doing an excellent job of putting the ball away. Kylie Browne has really stepped up and my middles, Lesley Lebleu and Allyson Wrigley are returning starters who have stepped up, as has Jordan Hebert on the right side. We are unique in that we don't really have a go-to kid. We're kind of deep in the hitting department. Bailey Anderson (Grant's daughter) has come in to play setter."
Anderson expects a big test against the Saints, who are off to a 7-1 start.
"They are well-coached, Elizabeth Thompson does a phenomenal job with that program. They are always very competitive and a good match-up. My kids always look forward to it. They are no longer in district, but our kids will still be up for this game and we will have to be at our best to compete. They have a great outside hitter in Jolie Savoie and their middles are very polished as well."