Some volleyball teams envision improved communication, awareness on defense in 2020

Matt Hollinshead,

With volleyball scheduled to begin in a couple weeks, can New Mexico teams play defense in a relatively safe manner?

Some coaches see the immediate challenges, but also see opportunity for each player on the floor to play an even smarter, more cerebral defense and improve in that area all-around.

“We are trying different things,” Kirtland Central coach Nadia Begay-Watson said. “I’ve been more creative defensive-wise (with drills). It’s hard, but we’re getting it done… Back row, they have to cover each corner for us. Our middle back would be covering each corner.”

Net play and blocking are currently prohibited under the New Mexico Activities Association’s social distancing guidelines, and there’s the concern of defenders inadvertently running into each other while pursuing the ball.

That’s why communication and awareness becomes even more paramount, so that each player covers their spot and steers clear of teammates nearby.

It’ll come down to players alerting teammates where the ball’s going, each player calling for the ball and knowing when it’s out of their reach so they can stay back.

“I think it should be taught like that anyway,” Centennial coach Al Rosen said.

Rosen said his players are trained to be vocal with their teammates on defense, and that these unusual times could shine light on how good any given team truly is on defense and how good they can still become.

In the event of a tipped ball or lunging for the ball, Rosen said it’s about anticipating when the ball’s coming into one’s vicinity and designating specific players to specific gaps.

“I don’t want them to be going directly (to) the same spot on the floor,” Rosen said. “There’s so much ground to cover.”

Begay-Watson said her players are now more appreciative that everyone’s more proactive helping each other out on defense.

“Everyone’s covering each area thoroughly,” Begay-Watson said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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