Ladycats volleyball season ends in triumph with win
White Pine High School girls volleyball entered a new chapter to the program with Micheal Berry taking over the head coaching duties this season.
In Berry’s first year, he led White Pine to a 13-15 overall record and a 7-9 record in 2A South action, good for sixth place.
Although the team did not reach the postseason, he said his players were able to improve as the season progressed.
“I think we did really well,” Berry said. “Competition’s gotten better, and I think we rose up to the challenge that the South has brought. We beat some of the teams that made it to divisions. So that’s good for us for a morale boost. Overall, from last season to this season, there was a lot of great growth. We had a really good season.”
The Ladycats finished two games behind Awaken Christian for fifth place and three games behind both Founders Classic Academy and Needles for third and fourth place, respectively.
Despite losing six of their final nine games before the last match of the season, the Ladycats were able to seal off a 2-0 sweep to end the year on a high note against Founders. White Pine won the first set 25-21 and closed the match in the second, winning 25-20.
Berry said being victorious in the season finale was motivating for everyone.
“It was probably the best game we played all season,” Berry said. “They left it on the floor because we knew at that point that there was no way we could make it to divisions. So, we just played our hearts out. I screamed from the sidelines with excitement. It was an incredible feeling and lots of tears of happiness and everything. It just was a great way to end the season.”
Every season provides its trials and tribulations, whether it is on or off the court, and White Pine was no different to that.
Whether it was having a first-year head coach or problems outside of the program affecting the players, Berry said his team was able to do their best to overcome those issues.
“That was a big hurdle that we had to work through with some good talks, good mental preparation and training and just keeping good conversation lines open so that we didn’t have any more instances of anyone having any thoughts like that,” he said.
Luckily for Berry, this was not his first season at White Pine, having been in the program for the previous seven seasons as the assistant coach.
However, by taking on this new role, there were new things for Berry to be accountable for, leading a successful volleyball program
“Just overall more structure, like organization,” Berry said. “There’s a lot more that you have to take on from a head coach standpoint.”
From putting together a successful strategy on the court or deepening connections with the players, it was a year to remember.
Despite the negative moments that happened during the season, there were definitely positive ones to remember.
“Our opening season tournament was incredible,” Berry said. “We played amazing. Throughout the season, we had some great wins. We ended up with more wins than we did last season. We were right on the cusp at the very last minute to potentially make the playoffs. There were a lot of shifts within the South between us beating some teams that were for sure in it and losing.
“We went and watched a college volleyball game in St. George. That was a great moment. Our summer camp that we did in St. George was incredible. The camp we hosted preseason was amazing and then, you know we had some great games throughout the season and then the ending at Founders the way that we did was pretty incredible.”
As this season draws to a close, Berry said some of his players are playing other sports, including basketball and wrestling before returning to the court in the spring.
“I love that a lot of them play multiple sports,” Berry said. “Once it hits about April, that’s when we kind of start getting back into the gym, hosting some open gyms throughout the summer until tryouts again in August,” Berry said.
He said the message heading into the offseason, especially for the returning players
“The competition just keeps getting tougher and tougher, even in our own school,” the first-year head coach said. “Our program is very blessed that we have as many girls trying out as we have. The volleyball program is really thriving. We’ve had to cut more girls than we’ve ever had to cut this year. (It) could be the same next year. So, the biggest thing I’ve been telling them is to get as much practice in as you can to hone in on those skills and fight for your spot next year.”