Volleyball team counts on veterans

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Samantha Whalen had it easy in her first two years with Lincoln High School’s volleyball team. With other players willing to step forward as leaders, she was quite content to be a follower. That will change. Whalen is one of only two returning seniors for Mandy Retallack’s team. Brittany Browand is the other, and her job description as the setter stipulates that she take charge. Whalen watched Browand emerge as a leader last season after Browand transferred to Lincoln. “She started yelling at the seniors,” Whalen recalled. “She’ll let you know when she’s frustrated.” Browand’s presence is a blessing for Retallack. A veteran setter is invaluable on a team that is lacking experience and chemistry. The coach has no idea where she would be without Browand. Retallack chuckled when asked whether Browand can handle the role of being a coach on the court. “She’s got to be everybody out there,” Retallack quipped. “It came easy for her last year because she had the hitters. She knows we need leadership from her, and there’s no doubt she can do it.” Retallack assembled her team with Browand, Whalen, two other seniors, four juniors and two sophomores. With so many newcomers, Retallack had the players introduce themselves to one another. “We all got in a circle and the coaches called us out,” Browand said. “We all had to say our name.” The players have already become quite familiar with Retallack and her assistant, Betty Zamora. “Honestly, we’re teaching varsity volleyball all over again for a lot of them,” Retallack said. “We didn’t have to coach last year. The players knew what to do. This year we have our work cut out for us.” Retallack also realizes, however, that one player can’t lead a team on her own. Browand could use a sidekick, and Whalen is the obvious candidate. All Whalen has to do now is step forward. Whalen will know what Retallack wants when the coach meets with each player to define expectations. “She’s always been able to follow because we’ve had such strong leaders on the team,” Retallack said. “We know what we’re getting from Samantha, but she has to develop as a leader.” The time has come for Whalen to follow Browand’s lead, Retallack said, and Whalen realizes as much. “When Iplay, I feel like I’m being a leader. But verbally, I’m not ready yet,” Whalen said. “The pressure’s on.”