A new era of volleyball in Troup County began on Thursday as all three public schools — Callaway, LaGrange and Troup — battled it out at LaGrange High School in a series of scrimmages. All three schools are going into the season with first year head coaches.
For all three, this was their first taste of real game action despite it being just scrimmages.
“I can’t believe it,” LaGrange head coach Alma Barrientos said. “It’s been a lot of mental growth for me.”
Barrientos has some experience on the sideline for the Grangers as she previously served as the JV coach before getting the promotion.
Barrientos was not the only new coach with some JV experience as Callaway head coach Shelby Goins served as the JV coach for the Cavaliers a few years ago before taking some time off from coaching. Thursday she returned to the sideline as a head coach.
“It was so awesome to be back,” Goins said. “It brings me so much joy.”
Troup’s new head coach Hutch Blair got his first taste of action as a head coach on Thursday as well.
“I’m thrilled,” Blair said. “There’s always a lot of work to do, but I know I have a great support staff around me that help lift me up.”
All three teams piled into the LaGrange gymnasium less than a day before school resumes to get some quality preparation in. Fans from all three corners of the county lined the stands as well. Split into two courts – with the JV on one court and the varsity on the other – girls from ninth grade up to twelfth grade got some valuable experience.
“This was super important for us,” Goins said. “We’re a rebuilding program, so it’s going to take some time.”
With so much to work out with new coaches on the sideline on fresh faces on the team getting the JV girls some experience as they are the future of each program.
“I’m really really happy for not only the varsity, but the JV and the freshman team,” Barrientos said. “They were playing together.”
As this was all three teams first game action since the 2021-22 season ended, there were still some kinks to work out.
“We did a good job adjusting,” Blair said. “There are some small errors we need to fix, but it was great to come out here and get a good scrimmage in before the season starts.”
Thursday was a chance for many of the girls to impress their new coaches. Some stepped up to the plate and made quite an impression.
“Our libero Kate Mcateer is new to the position, but she worked her butt off, and I was beyond proud of her,” Goins said.
Troup’s libero – Maddie Knight – also made a big impression on her new head coach.
“She was throwing her body around and picking up everything on the ground,” Blair said.
With the season on the horizon, this was a big step forward for all three programs. A changing of the guard can be difficult at times, but the girls’ spirits were high across the board as they returned to the court for some real competition for the first time in many months.
“Out of the first game, the big thing I took was that they were supporting each other. It didn’t matter if it was a good point or a bad point, they were still supporting each other,” Barrientos said. “I told them if we’re not playing as a team we’re not gonna find success.”
All three teams tip off their regular season play next week.
It was a festival of volleyball on Thursday, but despite the positive emotions flowing out on the court, there are still improvements to be made.
“We’ve got work to do,” Goins said.