Megan Nation plans to be here awhile.
As the fifth Hall volleyball coach in the last six years and the fourth coach in the last four seasons, Nation takes over the Lady Red Devils program this season and hopes to restore some stability to a position that’s been unstable.
“Having a different coach every year is so difficult,” Nation said. “A lot of these girls are like, ‘OK, are you here for the long run or are you going to leave next year?’ And I don’t blame them. I’d have a hard time, too. But I’d like to be here awhile and start the program over again. I plan to stick around until they either fire me or something else happens.”
Joking aside, Nation hopes in staying around that she can help restore Hall to past success, which saw the program advance to the Class A state tournament three straight seasons from 1995-97 and finish fourth in Class A in 2005.
While the state tournament may be a tough goal to reach, Hall won 12 regionals from 1994-2008 but none in the last four seasons.
Nation aims to change that.
“They’ve had a lot of new coaches, so I’ve changed a lot of things that they did,” she said. “The first day of practice we went for three hours and it was a wake up call to them. They had no idea what they were coming into and what I expected out of them, which I knew was going to happen. They had to learn the hard way, but since the first day, they have been great. They grab balls, hustle, talk and move.”
Nation assumes a program that last season finished 5-27 overall and 2-7 in the Tri-County Conference. It was the Lady Red Devils’ fewest wins since 1986.
However, Hall returns experience this season.
The Lady Red Devils will run a 6-2 offense under Nation, guided by senior Vanessa Olivares and sophomore Brooke Keegan.
“We actually did a 5-1 over the summer, but then we switched to a 6-2 because we just have more options in a 6-2,” Nation said. “We can just use our talent more.”
Also back is senior middle hitter Clarissa Gerrard and senior defensive specialist Brenna Faletti.
In addition to the four, junior Ellie Herrmann will play as a middle hitter, while junior Lexi Piccatto will be the libero. Junior Shelby Justi and freshman Hunter Galassi will play as outside hitters.
“It’s been pretty tough coming in, but it’s been fun,” Olivares said. “It’s been different from all the other coaches that we’ve been through, but, of course, every coach will have their own different techniques and rules.”
Nation acquired some of her coaching techqiues during her three-year tenure as volleyball coach at Aurora University, a position she left last November to return to family and the area.
“It was a little different at first, but coach has been learning with us,” Gerrard said. “It’s kind of been interesting in a way, but it’s also been great. I think the team is coming along really well. We’re all growing together.”
The Lady Red Devils open their season Tuesday at home against Bureau Valley. Hall opens its Three Rivers Athletic Conference South Division schedule Sept. 10 at home against Kewanee.
“So far, it’s been a lot of fun. These girls are absolutely wonderful,” Nation said. “They work hard and, even during the summer, they come to play. The come in sweat and work, hustle and move. I’m actually really excited to see them start playing next week. They really have improved so much.”
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.