The Malibu High School girls volleyball team pumped iron this preseason in hopes of pumping some victories into the win column this year.
Second-year Sharks’ head coach Airess Padda said she had the 10-member squad in the weight room, along with the gym, in the weeks leading up to the season, in order to increase strength and speed.
“We lift twice a week,” Padda said after practice on Aug. 26. “I just felt like as a program we were a little weak and I believe every athlete in high school on the varsity level should be doing strength and conditioning.”
Senior Shark Ara Bolander said she loves the weight training.
“We have all gotten so much stronger and that really helps in the games,” said Bolander. “You can tell by the way we play.”
The weight training the Sharks did in July and August will be put to use this weekend.
Their season starts on Sept. 6 at the Laguna Blanca Tournament in Santa Barbara. Their first home game of the season will be on Sept. 11 versus New Roads High School.
During the summer, the Sharks participated in summer leagues and did strength and agility training, which included cone drills, box jumps and running an eight-minute mile.
“I think they are a lot stronger and ready for the season this year,” Padda said. “The commitment is there for them, and it is really going to pay off.”
Padda said she hopes the speed and agility training will help the Sharks compensate on the court for their overall lack of height.
“They may be bigger, but hey, we’re faster,” she said.
After starting the 2013 season in a lull, last year’s squad got hot toward the end of season and spiked in three victories in their last five games, including a big win over Oak Park — a perennial volleyball powerhouse — and a Senior Night win over Bishop Diego High School. The Sharks finished 2013 with a 6-13 overall record, including a record of 2-10 in the Tri-Valley League.
Padda said the Sharks want to carry that late season success over to the beginning of the 2014 season and maintain it.
“At the beginning of last year, the bond wasn’t that strong,” she said. “There were a lot of new philosophies that I was implementing and they didn’t have a lot of time to get used to them. It wasn’t until the middle of the season that we jelled. The fourth quarter of our season, we just really started turning it on, being competitive and winning most of our games.”
Senior Chelsea Bostwick, who plays opposite, said the team can’t be overconfident because of their positive play at the end of last season.
“We have to continue that hard work,” she said.
In addition to the added strength and speed, Padda, a former college volleyball player at California State University, Los Angeles, said communication is key for the Sharks this year. During a recent practice, Padda stopped play several times and preached to the Sharks the benefits of always communicating around and away from the net.
“They are still learning all the tricks and things you need to do,” Padda said.
Bostwick said the Sharks will be a scrappy team this year.
“We don’t have the height the other teams do, but we are definitely going to make up for that with our defense and the ability to get to the ball,” Bostwick said.
Padda said she wants the Sharks to start the year strong.
“It’s like the David versus Goliath story,” she said. “Just because we are smaller, doesn’t mean that we aren’t a force to be reckoned with.”