The Troy High School volleyball team ended their season with a losing record, falling in three sets to St. Ignatius during the play-in game for a short postseason.
But Head Coach Jordan Graves comes out of her first season as head coach with a team she feels can hold their heads high after the progress they made.
The Lady Trojans worked hard this season, she said, with some of the girls coming early to practice and staying late to try to work on their skills.
“That shows us that they really want to be there and they want to see themselves get better, which is ultimately our main goal,” Graves said by email. “Overall, the girls have really done well by staying focused on practices and improving the skills they see need the improvement.”
Putting in that effort despite a losing record only shows how resolved some of the team has been, she said.
“It’s difficult to come back again and again after many losses,” she said. “They never gave up. That makes me the most proud.”
Graves recalled a set in which the Lady Trojans forced Mission to fight for a 29-27 win.
“It was just a glimpse of what they are capable of,” she said. “They have so much potential and I am so excited for next year and for the opportunity to continue to cultivate that — and win some games.”
Graves also had praise for her assistant coach.
“Brenna Price is amazing and we worked so well together,” Graves said. “It’s difficult to have that continuity if you aren’t on the same page, and we were, which made this year that much better.”
But as many things as Graves appreciates and looks forward to building on regarding her team and coaching staff, there are still lessons learned from the season.
And he said applying those lessons starts in the off-season.
“We’ve come up with a plan to help the girls get stronger and work hard for whatever position they want,” Graves said. “We’ll offer open gyms several times a month and we are asking them to commit to being in the weight room several times a week.”
She is also looking into opportunities for the team to sharpen their skills outside of the regular season, she said. “I want to find camps, tournaments — any time we can play together in the offseason to get these girls as much playing experience as possible.”
Graves said she also wants to carry the academic thrust of the volleyball program into the offseason training, and may continue special study halls provided to the girls during the regular season.
Though the team had no academic problems this year, she said she is considering expanding the study hall program during the regular season as well.
Through it all, Graves came back to her pride in what her players have done to improve, her gratitude to be able to coach a sport she loves, and her excitement to see what the returning players will accomplish next year.
“It’s incredible to think back to the first couple weeks of practice and to compare it with where we are now as a team, and I am so proud,” she said.
Graves said she has loved watching the Lady Trojans play, and is grateful for the families and fans who came out and cheered them on.
“It’s been inspiring to see our gym fill up home game after home game with fans who just love these girls and love the game of volleyball,” she said. “I hope that we can continuously increase those numbers as we go.”