When the Graham volleyball team took the floor Friday afternoon, they were finally getting the opportunity to do everything coach Marci Faulk had talked about for the past month.

But there was no public address announcer or pre-game music, and the lower section of the bleachers was only about half-full of parents and friends.

The Lady Blues weren't even in their official uniforms, but they were jumping around, ready to take on the Breckenridge Buckaroos for their first scrimmage of the season.

Graham started out slow against the Buckaroos mainly due to inexperience and youth. The team has two freshmen playing significant roles and return four athletes with varsity experience, including one sidelined with a shoulder injury.

The Lady Blues struggled to score in certain rotations and pass the ball to the setter during the first match. But they made huge strides in the second match by showing mental toughness and putting into play the things they had practiced, like their “out-of-system plays.”

“Out-of-system plays” occur when the first pass doesn't go to the setter and someone else has to set up the hitter. When that sequence resulted in kills, the girls realized the long two-a-day practices had paid off.

“It assures them they're doing the right thing in practice,” Faulk said. “Once you see success, it's easier to buy into and really step up your practice plan again.”

Read the entire story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.