At the eighth annual Mountain Bash volleyball preseason scrimmage, hosted by Xcel Volleyball and West Henderson High School, local volleyball coaches got a chance to see their teams in action ahead of the start of the season next week.

The event featured 47 volleyball teams from 26 different schools, including the varsity and JV teams from Tuscola and Pisgah high schools.

Mountaineers head coach Pam Bryant and Black Bears head coach Josh Simmons both got an opportunity to experiment with different lineups, see how their teams competed against different opponents and see what still needed improvement before the season.

“The big value of it for us, and the reason we do it, is it’s a nice way to get to play together before you get into actual match play and regular season,” Simmons said. “You’re able to experiment with some lineups, see some people in different positions and then just work on timing, momentum and seeing some of the stuff we worked on over the summer really pay off.”

The scrimmage also provides an opportunity for coaches to learn. With so many different schools attending, it provides the coaches an opportunity to talk shop, see what level different programs are at and possibly pick up new practices to implement for their own programs.

“It’s a very good networking opportunity,” Bryant said. “A lot of us already know each other through the high school coaching but also club coaching. But it’s a good time for us to get to talk with them, look at their schools, evaluate how they run their programs, evaluate how their players are and so forth. Just to get to converse and stuff. It’s the networking that you get to do with those different coaches.”

Both coaches were pleased with their teams’ performances at the event and where they are going into the season.

Simmons praised the technical improvements his team has made, particularly with their serve-receive, along with the compete level going into the season.

“We’re going to compete,” Simmons said. “It’s fun to see. We’ve got some kids that are really going to compete and just really get after it. We’ve talked a lot in the preseason and the first couple weeks of practice, just about energy and motivation, having a want-to to get things done.

“We can see some of that coming out. It can still get better. There’s still a lot of things we can get better at. But we really showed a lot of energy at some parts and technically we did some good things too just in the aspect of volleyball.”

Bryant was pleased with her players’ leadership abilities, and their improvements in aspects the coaching staff had previously asked them to work on.

“I saw a lot of growth in our girls and leadership,” Bryant said. “This group of girls is a very coachable group of girls. It was a lot of the things that we’ve told them before. Now obviously it’s not everything and we still have things that we need to focus on but for the most part they were very attentive.

“The good thing was if we talked about it they knew what they needed to work on. So it wasn’t like it was a surprise. They actually saw it themselves, which is a huge part for a player. So if players can recognize what they need to work on without us even having to address it, that’s a huge success for us.”

Pisgah will open the 2019 regular season with a home match against Mountain Heritage on Monday, Aug. 19, while Tuscola will open with Polk County that same night.

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