GCMS High School volleyball team to start season under new coach

GIBSON CITY -- Taylor Rubarts enters her first year as head coach of the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School volleyball team.
As the head coach of the GCMS eighth-grade volleyball team, she led her team to a record of 15-7 in 2016.
“We're definitely excited," Rubarts said. "We have a whole new coaching crew this year. We've been working a lot together. There's a lot of energy in the gym. The girls are working really hard.”
The Falcons started a three-day streak of two-a-day practices on Wednesday. 
“I think we're just getting them all to come together. We have really focused on fundamentals – breaking everything down, telling them why they're doing what they're doing, and I think it's starting to click," Rubarts said Friday. 
"With those fundamentals in mind, the skills are just kind of coming along that maybe they didn't have at the start of the summer, even. We've seen a lot of improvement within just these three days. As long as they keep focusing on those fundamentals, I think we'll get there.”
Rubarts said her team talked a lot last summer about wanting to be competitive. 
Last year, the Falcons ended their season with a record of 1-24.
“Obviously, we want to win. Nobody likes to lose, but we just want to compete, and we want the girls to learn a lot about the game and start having fun with it," Rubarts said.
When GCMS went 7-19 in 2015, it equaled the program's win total over the previous two seasons.
“We want to get a crowd here. We want to make volleyball a sport that people want to come and watch here," Rubarts said. "I think that's the mentality the girls have, too. They want to have fun and compete, but we're trying to switch their mindset to thinking they can win. 
"As soon as we make that mindset shift, I think really good things will happen, and it's starting to happen.”
The Falcons will try to build a winning atmosphere with a roster of 18-19 girls, Rubarts estimates.
“We're small, but they're all working really hard and improving," Rubarts said. "That's all we can ask for.”
Three of GCMS's players will be going into their senior year. The Falcons also have two juniors, nine sophomores -- including two (Madison Eberle and Emily Clinton) who saw varsity playing time last year as freshmen -- and six freshmen.
“We're excited to see where they go this year," Rubarts said. “Our upperclassmen are doing a really good job. They're learning a lot.”
Among some of the seniors returning will be Claire Retherford.
“I think Claire Retherford is someone the girls really look to for some leadership. She just leads by example," Rubarts said. "She works hard all the time. She never takes a rep off. She's definitely one that we're kind of looking to for some leadership this year.”
During the summer, the Falcons played in a summer league hosted by Illini Elite Volleyball League in Bloomington, playing three matches per night each Tuesday.
In one of its matches, GCMS took Ridgeview to three games.
The Falcons will open their season on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at Ridgeview. 
“A bunch of our conference schools were there, so we got to kind of see where we were standing this summer, and we competed a lot this summer with those conference teams, so we're excited to see what the girls can do when it all starts," Rubarts said.
“I think with some work that we've put in, I think it'll be a really good match. The girls are looking forward to it, too.”
After a match at Blue Ridge on Thursday, Aug. 24, GCMS will host its home opener against Paxton-Buckley-Loda on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
“That's always a fun one," Rubarts said. "The rivalry isn't as big anymore, but I think the girls still look forward to that competition and having that be our first home game. It's always a fun one.”
The Falcons' Heart of Illinois Conference schedule will include two of the last three IHSA Class 2A state champions in Deer Creek-Mackinaw (2014) and Eureka (2016).
The Falcons will face the defending-champion Hornets in Eureka on Thursday, Sept. 14, and Dee-Mack on the road on Thursday, Sept. 21.
“All of our conference games will be tough," Rubarts said. "We have a very strong conference in volleyball. We're just looking to compete.”
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Volleyball, Sports


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