HS VOLLEYBALL: Lady Buffs making strides as a team

COREY STOLZENBACH | Staff PhotoMcAlester volleyball has been improving on things throughout the season and has made changes in its game. 

McAlester first-year volleyball coach Laurie Smith has noticed her team make improvements.

The coach said McAlester is playing its best volleyball because its rotations are set. She said each of the Lady Buffaloes know they can count on one another and they are communicating better. 

Smith said McAlester has changed its mindset. She thinks she has convinced the Lady Buffs that they must play as aggressive as possible. 

She said McAlester's mental toughness on a scale of 1-to-10 was a six, but said it was a three earlier in the season. She said getting to an eight would be acceptable.

She also switched up McAlester's defense this year. The Lady Buffs used to have a rotational defense, but now have something which resembles a middle-middle defense. 

Smith thinks junior libero Janai Riddle has done well in that role and said Riddle likes playing defense now. 

She has also asked her setters, seniors Emma Quintana and Zoie Newman, to play more defense in this new system. Newman got experience last year as a setter, while Quintana is back this year after nursing an injury as a junior.

"They bring a lot of stability," she said of the two setters. "They bring a lot of knowledge, and then they bring a lot of just team camaraderie, trying to keep the team together when things don't go the way they want them to."

The Lady Buffs have had higher attendance this year than in the past, confirmed by the McAlester Athletic Department. Data from the athletic department shows home gate is at $1,359 through the first three home games, compared to $1,344 through three games last year and $954 in 2017. 

McAlester's next home game is scheduled for Sept. 17 against Coweta. 

Smith said local businesses have been donating gift cards to members of the team, and the Lady Buffs have given some to the student section. 

She said there is a theme for each home game, and players usually hand out three. One is for the best signage, another for most hyped and another for best dressed, as per the theme that night. 

"If we can pick up some more wins, and generate some more buzz, I think that we'll get more people out to the gym," she said. "Hopefully it'll be loud, crazy and exciting."

Contact Corey Stolzenbach at cstolzenbach@mcalesternews.com 

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