GUYTON — Chauncey Garrett is returning to her old stomping grounds.
After taking last season off to focus on her master’s degree, the head coach of the South Effingham volleyball team is ecstatic to be back. She spent the entire summer working diligently to create the best game plan for her team.
“All summer, the girls have been working hard,” Garrett said. “I am really proud of the girls.”
With the season opener slated Thursday, it is crunch time for the Lady Mustangs, who must learn to compete together after spending a portion of the summer apart.
Senior Kayla Arnold is working toward building togetherness with her team and being more vocal.
“(I want to) communicate more because sometimes when I see the ball coming, I don’t say that it’s mine,” she said. “Volleyball is a great team sport and a great way to build relationships on and off the court.
“I want to make more friends. I am a team player. My dad and I sit down and make a checklist. I go to the gym and I train. I definitely like to come into the season prepared to help my team.”
Although she has a strong core of veterans, Garrett plans to work in two freshmen that she feels can be of value in her rotation.
“Avery Kilbourne and Zoe Long — I know they played for Club Savannah and they are super talented,” Garrett said. “There are actually a few freshmen I wish I could get my hands on but I didn’t have enough room. But these two freshmen jumped right in and they fit in perfectly. That is really cool to see. They are still young and have a lot to learn about high school volleyball.
“Skill level-wise, they are able to compete. They are used to higher competition because they play club ball.”
The Mustangs lost Kayla Morgan and Billie Collins to graduation. Although Garrett was not there to coach their senior season, she remembers the hard work they put into the program the previous two years.
“Kayla Morgan, she was incredible,” Garrett said. “I was sad I did not get to coach her last year. Billie Collins did some setting for us and learned a new position and did well for us. She will be missed.”
Returning impact players include Michaela Zorbo, Ginger Vorel, Anna Freeman, Katie Cartrette, Arnold, Maggie Morgan and Emily Schuman.
Having a strong nucleus to work with is an extra added bonus for Garrett but it’s watching her team enjoy the game she loves to coach that brings her the most joy about the upcoming season.
“I am just so happy to be back,” Garrett said. “Being in the Playdate at Richmond Hill reminded me of how much I love it. The competition level at high school is so much fun.
“There is a lot of pressure but it’s still fun. I like to see the girls have a good time. When they are having a good time, they are playing their best.”