Coach, players prepare for McAlester volleyball season

COREY STOLZENBACH | Staff PhotoMcAlester players go through drills on the first day of practice Monday.

Laurie Smith said McAlester has been good to her since rolling into town.

The new volleyball coach of the Lady Buffaloes said the people have been friendly to her and she's excited to be coaching volleyball again as she missed the camaraderie with players. 

She said she has gotten nervous in this new role, not from her duties in the gym, but turning in the proper paperwork to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. Smith said things in Oklahoma are different than they are in Texas.

"I'm nervous about making sure I don't drop the ball on anything, making sure things are done on time and all of that," Smith said.

Smith said things have been going well this summer with her players, and they did some laughing and joking in the gym in addition to putting in the work to get ready for the season. 

She said that most of the Lady Buffs were in good shape because they attended Summer Pride. Smith said sprints and footwork involving cones played in what kind of conditioning McAlester did. 

Smith wants to see more mental toughness from her players, but thinks the Lady Buffs will start picking more things up as the summer moves along. She mentioned putting McAlester in live action volleyball drills and putting the team in situations that are hard to overcome. 

What she said would push the mental toughness of the Lady Buffs is not letting the drill beat them. She added McAlester will also get in the weight room and learn mental toughness there, too.

Smith said mental toughness is what's key to finishing and being good down the stretch in a game. 

"You can stumble," Smith said. "You can have issues, but you got to go to the next ball and put it away and get back on that scoring run."

Smith said the Lady Buffs have skills, but need to work on their decision making in real time. She said they need to do a better job of making the right decision in the right time during some of the drills.

Her arrival has some of her players "very excited" for the upcoming season.

"Everybody is super excited and everybody is super pumped up, and I just know that energy is just going to carry our team," Samantha Moore said.

Some players have caught Smith's eye thus far. She said Jada Rivas is a hard worker. Smith added that incoming Erin Wilkerson is a good teammate and Emma Quintana is a good leader.

Smith hopes the Lady Buffs will do well in passing and serving when they are scheduled on Aug. 9 to travel to Owasso for the season opener, and that they will be a team. She said team chemistry has been good thus far. 

She wants to improve on last year's 7-17 record, but wants the players to sit down before the opener and drive the goal setting for the 2019 season.

"We'll have a better idea after we do that as what we're going to set for official team goals," Smith said.

Contact Corey Stolzenbach at cstolzenbach@mcalesternews.com