Goose Creek Memorial's experience will pay off in 2019
After losing nine seniors off the 2017 squad, there were plenty of holes for Casey Veen to fill last year. Many would have considered it to be a rebuilding season.
Over half of the team ended up being junior varsity players from the previous year, the setter was just a freshman and multiple players were playing out of their natural position.
The first month and a half of the season, Veen admitted they were still getting to know each other.
But by the end, the group came together, bonded and played its best volleyball to make it into the playoffs. Once there, the Patriots fell short in the first-round to Barbers Hill to end the season.
"A lot of the girls are coming back hungry for what we missed out on," Veen said. "I was very happy with the way we finished. It just propelled the girls to keep working hard. It showed that their hard work paid off. The girls already know what they're in for this season."
Entering her fifth season at the helm, Veen is feeling good about the group she has coming back.
In the offseason, the team worked out with the football team. On top of that, different players have been stepping into leadership roles.
"Elizabeth Easley has taken over as a vocal captain," Veen said. "Leading the girls, telling them what they need to be doing and what's next. She brings a lot of energy."
Taylor Kotlarz is another player that has stepped up in Veen's mind.
"Kotlarz is a very experienced volleyball player," Veen said, "and she leads on the court with her energy and skill."
Finally, the now-sophomore setter Zoe Martinez has grown a lot and feels more comfortable at the position. The District 22-5A Newcomer of the Year was only 13-years-old when she played her first varsity game of her high school career.
"She was playing with 18-year-olds and she was a little timid. She didn't want to step on anyone's toes," Veen said. "She was trying to play the freshman role, but her skills, ability and potential were above that. You could see her confidence grow each day."
In the offseason, Veen saw her confidence grow and Martinez did power-lifting to continue to get stronger. Martinez also qualified for the USAV Beach Nationals this past summer.
"I think her work ethic and dedication to volleyball kind of leads without saying anything," Veen said.
A grueling season is planned for the Patriots, including playing in three tournaments, which will give them roughly a 45-game slate.
Goose Creek Memorial will try and surpass the 20-win plateau for the fifth time in the last seven seasons and for the fourth time in Veen's tenure.