Senior leadership will be key to Lady Rebels‘ success

By Marlys Good

Staff reporter

Five seniors, Brittany Vigil, Kinli Vigil, Cydnie Clark, Mandy Willert and Emily McKim, will anchor the Riverside Lady Rebel varsity volleyball team as it heads into action Saturday at Columbus, Mont., for the start of the 2012 season.

Coach Lindsay Schaffner said the five seniors, and the leadership they have shown in the early pre-season practices, will be the strength of this year’s team. “They have worked extremely hard and are great leaders for the younger girls right now.”

Shoring up the five seniors will be juniors Cayde Cuprak and Shelena Coronado. Cuprak, the back-up setter to Sasha Rollins last year, did all the setting for the junior varsity last year. Schaffner said, “She has two years experience and a lot of playing time, but it’s a different role at the varsity level. We have been working a great deal on getting Cayde ready to go.”

Right now, Schaffner is looking at Coronado to play libero, “to be that passer in the back row for us.”

After a week of practice, Schaffner said they are focusing on “learning to play together again with new people in new positions, to gel as a team, figuring out what the person next to you will do in her rotation – just playing together.”

The Lady Rebels open pre-season play at an invitational in Columbus, Mont., at 9 a.m. Saturday. They share a pool with Roundup, Joliet and Columbus. In the second pool are Huntley-Project, Bridger, Shepherd and Big Timber. Teams will be seeded into a bracketed tournament depending on records in pool play.

Schaffner said the tournament “is a great opportunity for us to see new teams. We go to a lot of tournaments and play a lot of the same teams in our conference. That is not a bad thing, but it’s nice to see new competition. It gives us another week to fine-tune a few thing before we open conference play.”

Schaffner will use the opportunity to “try to figure out our rotations, who is next to who, experimenting with things; the back row, serve receive, they are up for grabs at this point. We’ll be looking to see who performs. It’s a great staring point to see what we need do to next.”

Looking down the road to conference play, Schaffner said from sheer size and numbers Lovell and Thermopolis figure to be the teams to look out for but, “everybody will be tough.” Don’t count the Lady Rebels down and out. They should be right in the mix.

While their varsity counterparts are in Montana, the young junior varsity Lady Rebels under assistant coach Virgie Mattis will be in Cowley this weekend competing in the North Big Horn Invitational.

Riverside is scheduled to play the Rocky Mountain junior varsity at 5 p.m. followed by a match versus Meeteetse at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Saturday it will be the Lady Rebels taking on the Lovell JV at 9:30 a.m. and the Lady Blue from Shoshoni at 11:30.