December 21, 2014

Les Progrès des Laféroises

I have been quiet on the volleyball side of things this fall.

It wasn't on purpose. We just don't have a lot of photos or videos to really showcase what's going on, and we haven't had any really dramatic victories to brag about. All of the photos in this blog are from our first match back in September.

There also hasn't been a lot to complain about - which is very nice. We have had the normal new team growth struggles like learning each other's tendencies, how to communicate effectively, and how we best blend together as a unit.

Practices are fantastic. It's always a high-intensity workout, and my coach doesn't waste any time. Our warm-ups are fast-paced, with volleyballs, and technically driven. We only have 8 or 9 players at practice - and usually more like 6 or 7 - so the game situations are lacking, which is unfortunate. But other than that, three days a week we are working really hard, getting tons of contacts, and improving.

We are currently the 3rd place team in our Nationale 2 pool. We won 7 matches and lost 3 in the first half of the season. We should have been 8 and 2, but we messed up against Hagondange (4th place team) when we won the first two sets, then ended up losing in 5. The other two teams we lost to are in first and second place.

It's a nice, normal season so far.

The biggest difference for me is having to jump set. Every ball.

That's been a big adjustment, but a welcomed challenge, and I still have a long way to go. I have to constantly think about who and how I'm setting (start way right in area 2, jump forward, jump high, extend my arms, strong and fast wrists, faster, faster, faster!). I don't jumpset well yet, but I'm running around and popping up all over the court these days. In and out of system, my coach has very specific ideas about which set should be sent to whom, depending on how high the first contact is, and where my location is on the floor.

I know this all sounds very normal - and it is. I just haven't had a coach be this particular since my last college season. That was seven years ago.

I have seen flashes of what I'm supposed to do, and even played really great for an entire set last week. Lame, I know, but as more of the system becomes habit for me, the more frequently the good moments will come.

So we're in third place, and I'm not playing well, our hitters have on and off days (maybe because of me sometimes, sorry!), and we're still progressing in serve receive and defense. In fact, we are all still waiting for and working toward that match when every player does play well together.

Right now, we're still climbing the mountain of our potential, and the bar keeps getting set higher and higher as we continue to achieve our goals.

It's a fun change of scenery here in La Fère. I commute 2 hours each way a couple of days a week to Paris to tutor English. I coach 9-year-olds on Tuesdays, and 12-year-olds on Fridays. I'm not the only foreign player anymore. Marc has completely mastered driving my club's stick-shift 9-passenger van. Autumn was mild, warming us all the way through December.

And we're off to Spain tomorrow.

The job is good, and the life is even better.