In most cases, any club or AAU sports are compiled of many different faces from many different schools and even areas.
That isn’t the case for Heights Volleyball Club.
HVBC, in it’s second year as a program, has been more of an opportunity for University Heights Academy to continue to build its volleyball program in the offseason.
This year, while there are faces on the team from different schools, most of them are Lady Blazer, volleyball players.
What’s even more convenient is the core of UHA’s volleyball team all play for Heights during club season, excluding freshman middle Julia Thomas, who plays club volleyball in Nashville, Tennessee.
“This is the first time we’ve had enough girls in the same age range to run a team,” UHA head coach Faye Hendricks said. “Primarily, it’s to build chemistry and develop our core group so that when they get to the varsity level, they’ll be ready.”
Erin Harper, who is an assistant on the UHA bench but is the head coach of the 15 Club team — one of two groups for Heights — said this year had some question marks around it coming in, but things have come together nicely.
“We were going into it with some unknowns,” Harper said. “We ventured out and opened our tryouts to other schools as well. This team has significantly grown. In the short time we’ve had them, they have grown a lot. It’s very impressive to me that they can come together from different schools and build that connection — that says a lot about them.”
Hendricks said it’s fun to watch her kids continue to grow and develop together as a team, and also good to watch Harper become a head coach.
“For me, it’s pretty fun to watch,” Hendricks said. “Erin is the head coach on this team and I just kind of get to help her along too. It’s also developing her coaching skills too.. I’m hoping at some point she’ll get to be a head coach too. It is really fun to watch them grow. They are advancing. They’re playing at a different speed now than what they did for me in the fall. It’s fun to watch them play against their age group and get a good idea of where they are. … That’s something else that really neat about club.”
With club season, Hendricks said it allows for more time to focus on fundamentals and key in on specific areas to improve.
She and Harper both said volleyball IQ is one of the biggest areas they are working on with the teams.
“Club season does allow for a lot more practice and working more on fundamentals and individual and team skills,” Hendricks said. “I think we’re working a lot on their volleyball IQ. Understanding what the other team is doing and how that affects our defense and offense. I mentioned the word speed before, we’re trying to learn how to read and play a faster game. Hopefully, that will help us compete with other top-level programs in the fall as well.”
The focused training has paid off as well.
Heights has played in three tournaments so far this year, with both groups getting wins under their belt. The 12U team took a win in the Cupid Classic in Paducah and the 15U club won this past weekend in the NASA Bash in Huntsville, Alabama.
HVBC 15U has three more tournaments scheduled on the season, and Harper said the extra practice is going to pay off in a big way moving forward for UHA volleyball.
“I think it’s a really crucial point of moving our program forward,” Harper said. “I think it’s an opportunity that a lot of other schools don’t necessarily get. A lot of the force behind starting the program was of course to focus on our girls and be able to develop them together. I think it’s just really crucial as far as moving forward with the program. I think this will honestly take us to different heights.”