If only the North Pulaski volleyball team could develop team cohesion, Coach Benjie Belton sees great things for the Falcons. Until then, the Falcons need to work their way through their mistakes.
“I’m glad we had last night off,” Belton said. “We got to watch film, and they got to see the stuff we were talking about. We’ll see if they learn and improve. When we play together and play hard, we can beat anybody.”
Belton saw that potential during the summer in team camps when the Falcons (1-3, 1-2 conference play) played with Rogers Heritage and Springdale Har-Ber. Now, he sees inconsistent mistakes as North Pulaski’s culprit. Last week, the Falcons defeated West Helena in three sets then lost to Pulaski Academy in three, including a 23-25 setback in one set.
“At one point, we were down 11-3, and we came back and had a chance,” Belton said. “But, we served the ball in the net and ended that rally. The girls competed well, but our mistakes beat us. We would have an eight to 10-point rally and fight our way back into it and either, miss a serve, shank a ball or hit a ball long.”
Those inopportune miscues are what Belton is trying to get the girls to eliminate. He is trying to make them realize they are momentum killers, especially when a team is fighting its way back into a match.
“It’s not ability, but a little bit of effort and focus,” Belton said. “We need to redirect and refocus and try to win every point. If we work on winning every point and not necessarily the set, we could blow people away.”
One place where North Pulaski needs improvement is more offensive production in the middle. While the defense is good most of the time, sometimes the Falcons let a ball drop. Also, Belton says serving is the best part of the Falcons game as they can serve deep and in the corners. He would like to see that area become more consistent. Additionally, he is waiting for the upperclassmen to step up. However, he had praise for setter junior setter Emily Long and senior hitter Breanna Lyons.
“The most consistent is my setter, and she plays lights out every night,” Belton said. “Breanna is the most consistent up front and has been playing hard and pulling her weight. She is so versatile and can play anywhere on the front.”
North Pulaski travels to Jacksonville today. While the Falcons have defeated that team throughout the summer, Belton wouldn’t be surprised if the match went five sets or if North Pulaski won in three. He has a hard time predicting because of the Falcons’ inconsistencies.