NPCC volleyball hopes talented young roster can bring success in 2019

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - After starting the season with two wins and two losses over the weekend, the NPCC volleyball team hosted a media day Monday. The media day was mostly for the players, nine of whom are freshman, could get head shots taken for the upcoming season.

The Knights had a 17-21 record in 2018, and lost in the District G playoff. In 2019, they're using last year's experience, and nine freshmen, to advance further than last season (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)

With a young team, it's not always clear how the players will perform until the season gets underway. However, the players, and head coach Alexa McCall are excited about this team.

"I'm impressed with how they've come along," sophomore middle back Sydney Mullin said, "I'm confident in every single girl on that roster. I'm excited that they're here, we're all here for a reason, and I know they'll all work hard for our goal in the end."

McCall also notices the strides the freshmen have made since arriving, and credit the sophomores with helping that happen.

"There's times where there's only one or two sophomores on the floor, but I think our freshmen have done a nice job of being ready and taking on that challenge, but I think that's kudos to our sophomores, helping them get there," McCall said.

McCall has also been impressed with the talent from top to bottom on the roster.

"I am so excited, because of the depth, it makes practices really competitive. It's promising for us coaches to know that there's going to be games where we need something a little bit different, but we have a lot of weapons and options," McCall said.

Erica Hopping, a freshman from Sutherland, NE, is the starting setter on the team. Hopping says the change in pace from high school was tough, but sees potential in this year's team.

"Friday was a great start. It was a good confidence builder. It's a completely different game from high school. It was kind of overwhelming at first, but once we started going, you could see the fire in our eyes, and we got things clicking. Even though Saturday didn't turn out the way we wanted to, there were still good things happening, things we can improve on, but it was good overall," Hopping said.

Of the 14 players on the roster, eight of them are from Western Nebraska. Being from Sutherland herself, McCall makes it a point to get talented players from the area.

"We try to get the best kids in the area when we're recruiting. We don't want them going somewhere else when we can have them on our team. So, that is something we like to look for, and also it's our advantage that we see them a lot more throughout the year," McCall said.

Last season, the Knights ended their season with a loss in the District G playoff. The sophomores are using last season as motivation for this year, and hoping to improve upon the results from last year.

"I think we're ready. We have a lot of fire this year. we have a lot of girls that they see the goal in front of us, and we're ready to work, and it stings from last year, and we have that behind our backs, and we don't want it to happen again, so we're ready to work," Mullin said.