Big expectations with low numbers will be the name of the game at Seaside this year, as the Gulls enter the 2003 volleyball season.
The Gulls had one of their lowest turnouts in years, leaving not much room for error or injuries.
"Actually, this is my worst turnout ever," said Seaside coach Jason Boyd. "We have 29 total kids (second day of fall practice), and it's usually about 40. The summer commitment wasn't very good this year. I had a feeling it would be kind of low."
By the end of the first week, that number had dwindled, as three players quit - including two seniors - leaving Seaside with a total of 16 players for the varsity and junior varsity squads.
Seaside Volleyball glanceCoach: Jason Boyd (10th year)
2002: 5-5 in league, 0-1 playoffs
Players to watch: Beth Allen, the Archibald twins, Melissa King, Kathy Maltman.
Key losses: Carli Barnett, Jasmine Carow, Ashley Flukinger, Chelsea Morrisey, Mallory Osburn.
Outlook: Gulls will overcome low numbers for a top three finish in league.The good news is that the Gulls lost just three seniors off last year's roster, plus a junior (Kristin McLaughlin) who did not return.
"We lost a defensive specialist (Carli Barnett), an outside hitter (Ashley Flukinger) and a setter (Chelsea Morrisey), so we don't have to replace too many kids," Boyd said. "Chelsea was a good, solid player for us and did a good job at setter. Replacing the setting position will be a point of emphasis for us."
One candidate for the setter job is sophomore Melissa King, who saw plenty of varsity action last year.
"She's been working hard over the summer, went to quite a few camps and played club last year," Boyd said. "All of our setters have been working with a setting coach, and that will help those players."
The Gulls also have some height on the front line, including senior returner Beth Allen, along with sophomores Brenna and Jenna Archibald, sophomores Jamie May, Jenny Boehm and Ilsa McEwen, and freshman Becka Weaver.
"We're pretty tall," Boyd said. "We have the (Archibald) twins - who are pretty solid athletes - Beth Allen (6-0) and Becka Weaver (6-0), so we have some height.
"The last four or five years, (junior outside hitter) Kathy Maltman would have been one of our tallest kids. Now she's just a taller outside hitter.
"It's nice to have height, and we're pretty fast, too, with Vanessa Zschoche, Tenisha Stock and Brenna and Jenna are extremely quick. That's going to help us out a lot. We're much faster than we were last year."
For some, the answer was right outside the school doors.
"A lot of these kids have been running on the beach this summer, and that really paid off," Boyd said. "They're getting a lot stronger that way."
Other returners who will see plenty of varsity action include senior setter Tessa Ter Har and junior middle blocker Amanda Laird.
Senior outside hitters Mallory Osburn and Jasmine Carow have decided not to play, meaning more time for possibe outside hitter Katie Emmerling and middle blocker Jeannie Pfund.
"My sophomores and juniors look very good," Boyd said. "They'll get some playing time. Jenna is going to be up there playing a lot of varsity minutes, as will Kathy."
Laird, a returning honorable mention player, is "dabbling with a couple other positions, but she'll get a lot of varsity time," Boyd said. "And Tessa Ter Har has worked hard over the summer, and came in to camp in better shape this year.
"I'm hoping that our senior kids will step up and contribute," Boyd said. "I'm a pretty loyal coach for the seniors, and I want to give them every opportunity to contribute and be a part of the squad."
Replacing Morrisey's floor leadership will also be a challenge.
"Beth wants to be a leader, and Melissa has to be a leader," Boyd said. "Building chemistry with this group is going to be interesting. There's some kids who come from different mindsets, and I have to find a way to make it all fit."
Leaguewise, Boyd said, "Banks didn't lose too many, and they've been playing club year-round, so they should be pretty good. Rainier is always solid, Astoria did well this summer in their team camps, and Angee (Hunt) is a great fit over there - I expect them to be good.
"I don't think there's a clear-cut favorite. We'll see how it goes."