The first-year varsity coach began working with the girls in June to prepare them for the fall season by holding open gyms and implementing a fitness regimen.
“I try to get the girls in the weight room,” Trader said.
Trader, who is studying kinesiology in a Master’s program at San Jose State University, said it’s important to build up strength as well as practice volleyball skills.
The summer fitness program has already started to pay dividends, as the Cougars are out to a 2-0 start with 3-1 wins over Pajaro Valley on September 10 and Anzar on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
“It helped motivate us and prepare the incoming players,” said junior co-captain Rachel Smith. “It helped with quickness and our feet. I could see a big difference compared to last year.”
Smith and junior Bailey Lotz were voted on as captains by this year’s team of 14 players.
Trader is excited about the number of players and the passion for volleyball the team has exhibited since the summer began.
“The girls are close,” she said. “They enjoy coming to practice.”
Lotz likes the energy of the team that includes only three seniors, 10 juniors and a sophomore.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “We’re really young but we’ve been playing a long time. We all really love volleyball and we have a passion for it.”
Trader said many of them having been playing together on teams since middle school, coached by longtime coach April Beltz.
As a first-year coach, the camaraderie and experience make a difference, Trader said.
“A lot of them already know what they are doing and I trust them,” she said.
Along with Lotz and Smith, key players on this year’s squad include Maddy Vencill, Jocelyn Jones, Brittany Black, Alicia Magliato and Sammi Oesterle.
Trader said the team has potential, but her goals are for each player to grow individually as a player and for the program to do well.
Though she would not venture any specific predictions, Smith said the team has the potential to do well in league and improving throughout the year.
“I can see us all getting better,” she said. “We do have a lot of strong and motivated players.”
The Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League season began after press-time on Sept. 19 against Harbor High School. The team will host Scotts Valley High School at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23. A complete schedule is available at www.sccal.org.