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Drakes adjusting to changes, Mustangs hope to improve

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BLACKDUCK — In her third year of coaching the Blackduck volleyball team, Patricia Gerchy has made many changes.

“These girls are getting used to a whole new system and new coach,” she said. “As a coach, I don’t talk about wins, I talk about doing things fundamentally correct.”

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The team hasn’t won a championship in over five years but that’s not Gerchey’s only aim.

“When I started three years ago, we made changes in how things were done,” she said. “Fundamentally how the game is played, what kind of offense we are going to run, what kind of defense we are going to run — trying to get them to do what I was asking them to do. There’s been lots of changes.”

So far this season, those changes have been proving effective. The team now stands 2-0 and looks to continue that trend.

On Aug. 26 Blackduck won 3-1 (25-4, 25-14, 22-25, 25-14) over Clearbrook-Gonvick in its season opener and the Drakes carried that momentum into the following evening when they topped the Staples-Motley Cardinals 3-1 (27-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-22).

“I really feel that this year the girls are trying really hard to do what I’m asking them to do and make changes,” Gerchy said. “Again, I don’t talk a lot about wins. But right now, at least I can say that (Monday) night was an example of what will happen when they do what I ask them to do.”

Those requests are usually directed at completing serves, returning passes and digging kills — and doing those things correctly. According to Gerchy, the most rewarding aspect of her job is seeing the athletes put her suggestions into action.

“They are very coachable,” she said. “There are kids that look at you and then turn around and continue doing the things they think are correct. These kids look at me, really try to hear what I’m saying and then they turn around and do it.”

Despite two early wins, Gerchy can’t yet predict how the season will end, but as she says time and time again, it’s not about the wins. She wants to see the varsity players become role models to the younger girls and be a good example to other teams.

“Everybody wants a conference championship,” Gerchy said. “You want to make it to state, you want to have all-conference players — everybody wants that stuff. I am hoping to be in the top three of the conference, but I’m also hoping we can work hard and serve 90 percent in all our matches.

“Volleyball is a game of momentum and you have to work hard to get that on your side.”

Northome-Kelliher

NORTHOME — After finishing the 2012 season with a second-round playoff loss to No. 2 seed Mahnomen, the Kelliher-Northome Mustangs look to turn a young team into a seasoned unit by the end of the fall.

“This year, we need to continue to work as a team and improve individual skills,” Mustangs coach Chelsy Elhard said.

Tanyssa Olafson returns as team captain and letterwinner. Kelly Heck, Bree Lindley, Sadie Fraley, Jackie Pierson, Teresa Weidenborner and Michaela Williams also return with varsity letters.

“We have a small team,” Elhard said of the 10 varsity players. “But each player brings something special and unique to the court.”

She added that opponents should keep a watch out for the different strengths that the individual players each bring to the table.

“I have a really good feeling about this season,” Elhard said. “We continue to improve. There has also been improvement even during the offseason.”

Despite ending the season in the second round of the playoffs last year, the team shows promise. According to Elhard, the team needs to work more cohesively and improve its focus during matches.

“We need to play as a team, grow as a team and not let the little mistakes during a game bother us,” she said. “We continue to move forward.”

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