First year Halifax County High School varsity volleyball head coach Meg Bane has two points of focus — one to grow her Comets team through the season, the other, to grow the overall Comets volleyball program.

For the immediate target of growing the team through the season, Bane has five players returning from last year’s Comets team that finished 8-12 in regular-season play, failed to make the field for the post-season Piedmont District Tournament and made it to the second round of the Region 5D playoffs to finish with a 9-13 overall slate.

Senior outside hitters Kendall Foushee, Raegan Ridgeway and Cassie Ashe are back from last year’s team as are a pair of sophomores, Madison Barnes and Trinity Martin, who contributed well last season as freshmen. The remaining six players on the roster are players that are moving up from last year’s junior varsity team that finished with a 16-6 record.

Bane says the players have improved since last season, and she is optimistic that this team can improve upon last season’s record.

“I’m happy with where we are, but we have so much that we can improve on,” Bane pointed out.

Bane said a lot of work has been put into the girls improving their defense transitioning.

“In volleyball you have to transition back when you’re on defense, and last year my girls (on the JV team) and even some of the varsity girls got stuck in that defensive transitioning. So that is something we’re honing in on.”

The experience factor with the five returning players gives the Comets volleyball team a good nucleus to build around.

“They are aware of what the varsity level is like,” Bane noted.

“They talk about it with the other girls, and they talk about the different things you will see at the varsity level. The biggest thing is that the game moves faster. When they (the opposing team) are moving faster, they’re hitting quicker, and we need to do the same thing. We’ve got to match that intensity, not only on the court but also on the bench.”

One of the big things fueling the improvement of the Comets is that several players competed on a travel volleyball team during the winter months.

“Having some of the girls on the team that played travel ball over the winter and getting that extra experience helps,” Bane said.

“You can see the transitions to their footwork, they’re moving, and they’re talking and are more comfortable because of it. Those girls have those volleyball ‘smarts,’ and they understand the defense now. They understand that when this girl is hitting from this position, you have to go here. Those types of things are those technical skills that you do and work on at the beginning of the season. When you learn those skills, it gets to be fun when it’s time to play and everything goes live. “

While Bane is focusing on continued improvement by the players throughout the season, she also has a long-range goal of growing the entire Comets volleyball program.

“I’m not just focusing on the season,” she said, “I’m also focusing on growing the program as a whole. That’s my goal and my hope. That starts with the youth recreation league. It also starts with getting more girls to play travel volleyball. Volleyball is such a fun sport,” added Bane, “and these girls love it, and I love coaching.”

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com