The pioneers

Eighth-grade volleyball team tests AAU water

Ask the eighth-grade girls that decided to play AAU volleyball if they've improved, and there are no doubts.

"Yes," all eight players said, simultaneously and emphatically.

In the past, the only opportunity for girls to play volleyball was to join a school team. This weekend marks a change.

Today, nine girls will travel to Fort Morgan to play in an AAU tournament. Sherman Romney is the coach.

"Eighth-grade coach Susan Gregg mentioned something to me about an AAU team," Romney said. "The girls were interested, and we started some practices."

The team has practiced since the Craig Middle School season ended four weeks ago. They leave today to test their ability.

"This tournament is called the state championship for AAU," said Romney, who played volley. "We're guaranteed 15 matches."

That's a lot of volleyball for one weekend, especially considering the CMS season had nine games.

"Three hits," Tasha Romney said about how they had improved at setting up plays with three hits.

Moffat County High School coach Becky Jackson said she loves that there is a team.

"When I heard Sherman was starting a team, my heart went aflutter," she said. "For them to get 15 more matches, it's like adding another season of experience."

The team has had to start from scratch to raise money for uniforms and travel. It's also been tough to find gym time.

"The city of Craig has been great to share gym time with us," said Sherman Romney, who played volleyball when he was in high school.

In the span of four weeks, Romney has seen "an awful lot of improvement."

"We've had time to work more individually," he said. "There are so many girls out for the middle school team, the coaches don't get to teach the specialized roles as much."

The girls said they've im----proved in every aspect of the game.

Serving is a main focus for the weekend.

"We need to get our serves in, right girls?" the coach asked. "The girl with the most serves in gets a CD of her choice."

Overall, the girls said they were excited to have more experience.

"We'll have an advantage over other freshman groups," Jordan Maneotis said.

The tournament starts with pool play Saturday morning. There are 24 teams registered.

"We'll probably see some very good volleyball players," Romney said. "It will be good for the girls because it will broaden their horizons."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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