LONGMONT — As far as outside hitters go, Tambre Haddock is about as good as it gets in Longmont High School history. Current junior Becca Mau couldn’t have asked for a better mentor her freshman season.
One of the hardest strikers in the state of Colorado, the 6-foot Mau dominated Northern Conference defenses with her power as a sophomore in 2011. But somewhere midway through last season, the lessons Mau learned from one of the Trojans’ best began to sink in.
“She really taught me a lot about the overall game,” Mau said. “As a freshman, I always wanted to get up and pound the ball. Seeing her play and practicing with her really showed me that you have to see the court and make a decision about whether to get up and take a pound or see that little hole.”
While her accolades like All-Colorado second team come from racking up 430 kills as a sophomore, one of Longmont’s legends taught Mau to take pride in her serve-receive and defense.
Once Haddock graduated, the responsibility fell to Mau to assume the L1 position. Following Haddock’s instruction, Mau ended up second on the team last season with 432 digs and finished with 48 blocks.
Her emphasis on versatility won’t prevent Mau from driving the ball into the 10-foot line at every opportunity. She merely intends to continue doing so with the efficiency that helped the Trojans make a surprise run to the state tournament in 2011.
“The biggest thing that has made an impact on me through this high school experience is seeing the growth from my freshman year until now,” Mau said. “The ability to play on varsity all these three years and gain that experience has helped me so much.”
At the start of last season, Mau was just hoping for a winning record. To start 2012, the Trojans ranked third in the Denver Post preseason poll.
Returning the bulk of last year’s roster, Mau thinks the Trojans have the potential to be as good or better. But the absence of premier lefty setter Kelly Graham leaves a major hole to be filled. The Trojans will use three setters to replace Graham’s distribution.
Seniors Elena Michalski and Kailee Brazell will be this year’s setters along with sophomore Lyndie Haddock, who will move from right side to setter. All three have varsity experience and Mau, who benefited more than anyone from Graham’s passing, said she is excited about where they can put the ball and their consistency.
This year’s Trojans are young. But they’re deeper than they’ve been in some time. Cloie Cox, the team’s lone senior, said the Trojans find themselves in the same optimistic, yet questioning, starting position as they did to open the 2011 season.
“We have a lot of raw potential and that’s exciting,” Cox said. “We’re not exactly sure what to expect. Our practices and preseason are going really well and we expect a lot out of this year. I guess we’re at that point.”
Sophomore Lacy Haddock, junior Maddie Precht and junior Dailyn Johnson are three more productive starters coming back in 2012.
The Trojans lineup knows what a run to a conference title and the 4A state tournament feels like. And head coach Holli Stetson is expecting similar all-conference production from Mau, who will be the driving force behind Longmont’s title defense in the ultra-competitive Northern.
“Her accolades speak for themselves but her role on our team is one of leadership,” Stetson said. “She’s that go-to person when our team needs those points. We have a very talented team this year and she can hold her own in the front or back row, she’s one of our top passers, top defenders and she is way out in front in kills.”
She succeeded as understudy and Mau now finds herself assuming the guiding role she eagerly followed as a freshman.
“Being there for all the girls and mentoring them, in a way, is a new challenge,” Mau said. “I think it’s exciting, this year and next year, to see where our team can go as a whole.”
Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi