PEMBROKE — All it took was a text message for Lumberton’s Rachel O’Neil to decide on attending The University of North Carolina at Pembroke volleyball team’s positional skills camp this week.
“I came because the assistant coach (Katie Rueffer) texted me and let me know about it,” O’Neil said.
She joined several other volleyball players participating in the two-day camp that featured lessons on technique and strategy.
As the prelude to the team’s overnight camp taking place on Friday and Saturday, the positional skills camp allowed players in sixth through 12th grade to hone their skills while receiving guidance from UNCP coaches and players.
“We’ve had a really young group of kids come out with a wide range of skill and experience,” UNCP head coach Ellen McGill said. “It’s been a really good position camp for helping those kids develop consistency and skills in the different positions.”
Both days were split into a pair of two-hour sessions. The first sessions focused on passing and setting, while the second sessions focused on hitting.
Campers participated in drills and games that incorporated various tools designed to challenge them and make them adapt to various situations both offensively and defensively. One drill during the hitting session had the campers spiking balls through pool noodles tied to the net to simulate high blocks during a game.
McGill and Rueffer were assisted by almost the entire UNCP roster throughout camp.
“It’s awesome. It’s a good bonding experience for us and I think it gives them a good perspective on coaching and it helps them increase their knowledge of the game as well through coaching,” McGill said.
McGill, who is entering her fourth year as head coach of the Braves, said turnouts at the team’s camps have been steady over the years.
“Every year it’s different kids because you see kids graduate and move on,” McGill said. “We’ve generally had about the numbers we’ve had the last two days, about 20 in each session. Tomorrow we’ll probably have 20 to 30 kids.”
The coaches and players had an opportunity to see the campers make significant progress as they went through the camp.
“I enjoy seeing the improvement over the two days,” McGill said. “It’s amazing what kids can do when one or two things are said to them. They can make that adjustment.”
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.