SPRING HILL — Something had to change, according to Coral Shores High School volleyball coach Kathy Ets-Hokin, as the Lady Canes opened the season with five losses. So with the first three back-to-back tournaments on the docket, the coach figured it was time to change the lineup.
“It just wasn’t working. I knew I had to change a few people and I think it went much better,” Ets-Hokin said. “We just have to keep tweaking it to see what works. I told them I’m going to keep tweaking things, and at first they didn’t like the change, but once we got into it, they saw the difference.”
Those changes included moving previous libero Sam Martinez to a starting spot in the full rotation, and fellow senior Kate Johnson taking a role as a middle hitter.
The coach said she decided to keep Brooke Mandozzi playing solely on the back row, which she felt made an instant impact as the sophomore collected 44 digs in the five matches.
“Not only did she have that many digs, but they were perfect passes to the setter, which allows us to run our offense,” Ets-Hokin said. “Our serve receive was one of our issues. But with Brooke giving that many good passes and with Kate in the middle, we were able to set her even more.”
It still took a bit for the Lady Canes to find their rhythm in the new lineup as Coral Shores lost 2-0 (25-21, 25-13) to Lake Gibson, 2-0 (25-19, 25-19) to Lakewood Ranch and 2-0 (25-19, 25-16) to Sumner.
“They weren’t blowouts, though,” she noted.
That left Coral Shores in the Copper Bracket of the tournament, and the Lady Canes opened with a 2-1 (25-23, 19-25, 16-14) victory against Citrus, and followed in the Copper Finals with a 2-0 (25-18, 26-24) win to bring home the “Rose-Gold” hardware, as Ets-Hokin called it.
“I told them they really know how to get my blood pressure pumping in these games,” said Ets-Hokin, noting the two-point victories in three of the five matches played during the single-elimination brackets. “We needed that so bad for their morale. It was a big booster.”
Zoe Myers led the Lady Canes with 25 kills in the 11 games across five matches at the event, hosted by Bishop McClaughlin, located just north of Tampa.
“These tournaments are really good team bonding,” Ets-Hokin said. “Being with someone for four straight days in a hotel room together, you really get to know someone and this is a really good group of kids.”