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September 18, 2012

Farmington High volleyball under new leadership, system

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Farmington High volleyball under new leadership, system
Farmington High coach Michael Scott gives his team two thumbs up during a break against Troy High Sept. 13 at Troy. The Falcons lost in three games.

Farmington High volleyball coach Michael Scott is the first to admit there are growing pains that come along with a new coach, new system and new players.

Scott, who coached the last four years at Northville High and before that was part of the staff that won a state championship at Churchill High, is bringing in a system that is fairly new to the state, let alone the prep level.

“It’s what you see on TV with the USA teams and a lot of California teams,” he said. “They all, basically, run what we run, and we’re trying to bring that to Michigan.”

The system is called Gold Medal Square, and Scott noted that the only other team in the state that runs it is Northville.

“It’s different in where we stand on defense, how we pass, where we pass to and how we serve. It’s just a different thought process,” he said.

Scott described it as a more ball-control system, and one that he believes gives the athletes the best percentage of being successful on any play.

“I think it’s a ‘do things smarter not harder’ type of system. It’s giving yourself the best chance to make a play,” he said. “It’s thinking about what’s going on on the other side of the net. It’s different than just run as fast as you can and try to shove it down (the opponents’) throat.”

One defensive aspect is called a swing block. Most fans see a girl shuffle her feet to a spot at the net and then jump straight up to block the offense. In Scott’s system, the technique to leaping is much like the technique used to spike the ball, where a player uses her core muscles and arms to help get her in the air, opposed to just the legs.

Scott said the technique allows you to get higher in the air and for longer, which means it gives the athlete a higher percentage of getting a hand on the ball.

The coach said he’s seen spells of his team using the concept, but with such a foreign idea often under pressure, the team reverts back to the old style.

At press time, the Falcons hadn’t played a match in the Oakland Activities Association White Division. They have played in numerous tournaments and have won a handful of games, but Scott said they’ve lost many by just a couple of points, which he believes will change as girls become more comfortable.

“There are some nice pieces here, so we can figure it out this year. It might be a week from now, a month or in districts,” he said. “They’re still trying to figure out their roles and mesh together. I am throwing a lot on them.”

Scott is counting on seniors Sarah Gutknecht and Kelsey MacDonald, along with junior Michelle Begovic.

Gutknecht, whom Scott calls a tremendous athlete, plays outside hitter.

MacDonald is a libero and also helps explain the system, as she’s done it before on Scott’s club team. “I’m really glad that she’s on the team, because she brings stability to the system that she’s familiar with and the rest of the kids are learning.”

Begovic is at middle hitter, but can also play on the outside.

“She’s a good player, and I already know a couple of colleges that want to talk to her.”

Scott isn’t setting goals based on wins and losses, but instead hoping to build the foundation for a program that is successful for many years to come.

“With the talent we have, I’d like us to put up a nice run and scare some teams. But it’s not how we start, it’s how we finish,” he said. “I know the trials and tribulations of bringing in a new coach. I’m trying to walk away with two things — a positive coaching experience with some success along the way, but also creating a positive environment where the kids love volleyball.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.