With Olson injured, Pine-Richland volleyball making adjustments
By: Kevin Lohman
Friday, April 20, 2018 | 11:00 PM
On the heels of completing its first go-around of matches against its Section 2-AAA foes, the Pine-Richland boys volleyball team is preparing to make midseason adjustments ahead of its second swing through the section.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the adjustments they make might have to differ from the garden variety alterations every team goes through before embarking on the stretch run.
Recently, outsider hitter and the top high-flying finisher on the team, Luke Olson, suffered an injury. While Olson is still being assessed, coach Shawn Grady is making preparations for his Rams in case the all-section performer cannot return before the end of the season.
“I think we're really just going to play a different style,” Grady said. “If you take a baseball reference, you lose your cleanup hitter, then you start playing small ball. You go for singles. You fill the bases, and you try to bring those runners home any way you can.
“Volleyball, it's similar in how we'll adjust. Luke is a power hitter and one of our best passers. Those two holes are very difficult to fill, but the guys will have to come together to step up. We still have pieces. We have some very big blockers, and we probably have the best libero in the section. We can build around them, and we'll see how the guys step up.”
Though Grady said it won't be the responsibility of any single player to step up and absorb Olson's production, the stellar play of libero Blake Todorowski likely will become more vital to the Rams' success.
In addition to Todorowski, outside hitter Steve Gleyze figures to play a key role as one of the more experienced finishers left on the court.
Meanwhile, 6-foot-4 senior middle hitter Chris Gebhart will have his blocking abilities put to a tougher test now that another frontline giant might miss time.
But Grady said there's no rush to assign different roles and responsibilities to players in order to make adjustments. Instead, there's an emphasis on continuing to prepare for each game and simplifying the team's approach.
“We're really just taking it one game at a time, and each guy has a job to do for us to beat whoever we play that evening,” he said. “The freshmen, the sophomores, the juniors and the seniors on the team, they all know what their jobs are.
“It may be getting a kill with a tip or it might be covering a block. Those little things are emphasized now.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.