Cass head volleyball coach Laura Hayes knew she would be stepping into a difficult situation. Being promoted from head coach at the JV level to leading the varsity program is certainly a big step, …
Cass head volleyball coach Laura Hayes knew she would be stepping into a difficult situation. Being promoted from head coach at the JV level to leading the varsity program is certainly a big step, but undergoing that transition during a pandemic makes it a lot tougher than normal.
During a 10-minute interview Monday with The Daily Tribune News, Hayes used the word challenging to describe her first month in charge of the Colonels program. She also said it was "overwhelming" having to keep up with and remind her players of all social-distancing regulations they must follow.
And yet, Hayes is extremely confident her players can step into Tuesday's season-opening matches against Murray County and Model as if this had been a typical offseason.
"I think we're pretty much on point," Hayes said. "... I think they've got their head in the game, and we can have a pretty good season. Looking previously at the talent I've seen from other schools at the JV level, which some of them are now going to be at the varsity level, our team is going to be just as good as any team out there."
After losing a solid group of seniors, including DTN All-County selections Keegan Krause and Madison Philpott, there were some questions about who would emerge as some of the leaders for Cass.
According to Hayes, senior Avery Morlot and junior Kya Perkinson have really stepped up in that regard. She's also excited to see how Chloe McMillan, Bailey Elrod and Hannah Komp play in their home opener Tuesday.
"They play together well," Hayes said of her team. "It's a different chemistry, but they're working as a team. ... They are playing more as a team, even though they had a shorter summer season.
"We usually have tryouts and have our team for the end of April and all of May. We only got our team together at the beginning of July. They really have overcome, come together and are playing well as a team."
Tuesday's matches will also represent Hayes' official varsity coaching debut. She did lead the Colonels a few times last season, when then-head coach Alan Potter was absent.
With everything going on, Hayes has some mixed emotions as the season opens.
"I'm excited, of course. This is history for me, my first varsity game," she said. "I'm excited about it. I'm apprehensive, because of COVID and social distancing, and all that thrown in there.
"I think they'll go in and hopefully we'll come out on top. If not, at least we can say, they did their best."
While there's a long way to go — the entire season, in fact — Hayes is keeping her fingers crossed that her team can make it through the year without falling victim to the type of cancellation that ended spring sports across the state.
"I'm thankful that the Georgia High School Association is letting them play, even though we have specific guidelines to follow," Hayes said. "I think the athletes and students need this to feel normal. ... I just hope they don't end up canceling the season either, like they did last [school] year for spring. I hope they keep it open and continue playing."