By David Heiling

Empire Press Correspondent

TONASKET — In Waterville/Mansfield’s third volleyball match of the young season, the inexperienced team fell to host Tonasket Sept. 14 in three sets, 25-22, 25-17, 25-14. Although the Shockers have yet to win a game in the 2017 fall campaign, it’s worth noting their three opponents — Okanogan, Lake Roosevelt and Tonasket — are undefeated.

The focus for this young Shockers team, like many teams around North Central Washington, is improvement in all facets of the game.

“The girls have been improving each game,” first year Shockers coach Melissa Flaget said. “This is just our third game. It was a fun game to watch. There were some great volleys between the two teams.”

Since the beginning of the season and even the practices before, Flaget said she has seen improvement in the service game. Being a young team, Waterville may experience some growing pains during the season, and Flaget expects Waterville/Mansfield to be a defensive squad.

“Each game our serving percentage is increasing. We struggled with only 74 percent in that first game,” she said. “Defensively, we are working to be as tough as we can be. It may look a wee bit scrappy at times, but the girls have been able to create a lot of playable balls off their digs. Offense is not going to be our strongest part this year.”

On Thursday night, the Shockers came out strong in a narrow three-set loss to the host Tigers, but faded in the second and third sets. Again attributing the lack of experience for the loss, Flaget said the team will look toward building intensity and a varsity-mindset at this upcoming week in practice.

“We need to work more on the creating intensity during the game and keeping the intensity going,” she said. “I personally don’t feel like last night’s scores really reflect how the girls played.”

At the beginning of the season, all 23 girls that make up the Waterville/Mansfield varsity and junior varsity squads made a personal goal that they would like to achieve in the course of the season. After the school week is over and every Saturday morning at practice, the girls get to work on that personal goal in a focused sort of individual practice. Hopefully, the girls attain their goals by the end of the season.

The Shockers played at home Sept. 19 against the Brewster Bears, and meet Soap Lake on the road Sept. 21 and Bridgeport at home Sept. 23. For Flaget, she will take it one game at a time and continue to try to up the intensity.

“We always want the girls to play at the next level of play by increasing the intensity on the court. So far, we have been showing improvement.”