The Lady Reds volleyball teams are up and running this summer as the varsity and frosh-soph squads approach a brand new season.
A new head coach - but familiar figure within the program - is at the helm, as Solomona Laupua succeeds Kristy Killough as the varsity coach.
Laupua has been a volleyball coach at Gustine for the past eight years, working primarily at the junior varsity level but spending one season as varsity coach a few years ago.
He inherits a program which has only two senior players returning - but is longer on numbers at lower grade levels than it has been for some time.
A dozen freshmen are among the 35 or so players who have turned out for summer drills, Laupua said.
“My goal is to teach these young kids the basics,” said Laupua “Some of them are good, but I want to make sure that they understand the fundamentals of the game, and improve from there.”
This season the Lady Reds will be lacking in the height category, so they will take another approach when going up against teams loaded with taller players.
“We don’t have a lot of height or hitters, so we will focus on quickness and defense,” Laupua told Mattos Newspapers. “We have to teach how to cover the court and focus on digging. Eventually the hitters will come, but right now it is all about defense.”
He noted that his goals are wanting to make the playoffs, along with teaching the kids to commit and play hard.
He hopes to have a frosh team so that the Lady Reds can give as many players as possible the opportunity to participate in the season ahead.
“I would like to have three teams to let them play but I don’t know,” said Laupua.
Coach Laupua has his team practicing three days a week for two and a half hours most days.
His main focuses for this summer are staying disciplined and working on footwork, along with working more on defense.