The Grand Island Senior High volleyball team experienced some difficult moments during the 2012 season.
The Islanders suffered a lot of losses in close matches, en route to an 18-19 record.
However, the Islanders return three starters, along with four other letterwinners for the upcoming season.
GISH coach Bill Root said that experience should help the confidence level of the Islanders should do better in the close matches.
"We lost a lot of close matches last year, so hopefully when we are in that situation this year, we can win some of those. I think the kids will get better as the season goes along," Root said.
McKenzie Fyfe, who returns as the Islander setter, should be one of those players who have experience. The senior contributed with 939 kills with 71 kills for GISH.
"She’s put a lot of time in and has played a lot of club ball in the offseason," Root said. "We’re excited about what she can do for us this season."
Ashton Riedy and Abby Crouch also return for the Islanders. Riedy, whose played varsity the past two seasons, finished with 254 kills and 351 digs, while Crouch chipped in 135 kills.
"They have had a lot of experience playing last year so that’s always helpful," Root said. "That always helps in terms of leadership. We’re pretty excited about that."
Sarah Splattstoesser, Madison Huismann, Sierra Peterson and Mackenzie Puckett all saw playing time last year.
"They all contributed in some way for us last year," Root said. "I look for them to do the same thing for us this season and play well for us."
Root said the key to the season is going to be what he says every year — the Islanders will have to serve and pass. Grand Island will not be as tall as its tallest player will be 6-foot, so the Islanders must win the serve and pass game.
"At any level, you have to do that," Root said. "The game is usually determined by that. If we are playing a team that is bigger than us, we have to win the first contact, whether it’s the serving or passing. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough for us because we aren’t very big."
Lastly, Root said he’s excited to see what the Islanders can do during the 2013 season.
"These kids have put in a lot of time during the summer and they are excited," Root said. "Everything has been pretty positive. We return a lot more players than we did going into last year. We’re more experienced so that’s helpful in terms of leadership."
The Islanders will open the season with a triangular with Fremont and Lincoln High Sept. 5 at Grand Island Senior High.