Volleyball: Mead trio seeking to build on summer club experience

Greg Lindstrom
Mead’s Mikayla Martinez hopes the big summer she and a few teammates enjoyed on the club circuit translates to more big-game victories this fall for the Mavericks.

MEAD — All Mikayla Martinez, Maddie Uilk, and Morgan Brim want to do in the fall of 2013 is bring a bit of Dallas to their own little corner of Colorado.

Should they succeed on building upon an unforgettable summer experience, the Mead Mavericks could be looking at the school’s first state tournament bid in volleyball.

The three girls — Martinez and Brim being seniors, Uilk a junior — all competed for the Five Star club team based out of Brighton this past year, and their U17 Black team made it to Dallas for the USA Volleyball Junior Nationals in early June.

Forty-eight teams made the tournament in their division, but the event swamped the Dallas Convention Center for an entire week with the best teams from all over the country.

The lessons learned were plentiful and happened on multiple levels, and being able to compete together was invaluable, the girls agreed.

“It was a totally different experience than I’ve ever been a part of before. The competition was a lot harder than what we’re used to but I feel like we got a lot of new skills,” said Uilk, who joked that was the first tournament where she actually felt short (she stands 6-foot-1). “We learned about each other, and can relate more and work together more on the court.”

“We definitely connected better,” said Brim, a setter. “I found a lot of sweet spots with Maddie and Mikayla, and we worked well to try and compete with the best. I am excited for this season, so we can definitely show that.”

The Mavericks have struggled the past two years with the pressure on, and that’s something the entire squad would like to change this season. As a Class 3A team in 2011, the Mavericks saw their season end at regionals. They were subject to the same fate last year, their first in the 4A ranks.

Martinez said she hopes the three of them can bring the team a little more big-game experience to the table this time around.

“Our surroundings were just so much bigger there. Playing at that level, around such high-level people made us improve. We had to focus on the small things,” Martinez said.

To have three girls on the team get that kind of exposure has been rare for the still-pretty-new school, coach Rachael Ayers said. But, the program is starting to gain serious strength in that regard.

“I think those three girls bring a bigger picture to our court, which is fantastic,” Ayers said. “Really, we kind of have over the past four years developed a culture of club in our program that hasn’t been there. We’re coming in a lot more experienced, a lot more expectant of the results we talk about day to day.”

She is confident in her bunch, and the pending changes in the offense show as much. Ayers said the team has been toying with the 6-2 offense specifically to open up Brim as an attacker. She also has thought about switching Uilk to the outside, too.

“Morgan is an offensive threat, and if we can free her up and get three hitters in the front row all the time. It’s not a bad thing,” she said. “I don’t see Maddie as a middle hitter, so we’re going to transition and build her as an outside because she can hit the snot out of the ball.”

Both players are welcome to the ideas.

“I’m up for anything, and it’s fun for everyone to get to experience new rotations. It’ll be good to not be as comfortable with things and to work hard to be able to do what we need to do,” Brim said.

“I think it’ll help me as a hitter to play some different positions, just be more varied,” added Uilk.

The Mavericks have enjoyed winning seasons, but there is something else besides getting to state that is kind of eating at them. A Tri-Valley League title typically goes through Windsor, and the Mavericks have the Wizards in sight this season after being swept in six games last year.

“We all have the fire and are pushing each other, and everyone’s on the game plan to have a successful season,” Martinez said.

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