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Season of unknowns coming up fast for FHS boys' volleyball team

In every other school year, the boys' volleyball season is played in the spring. This year, they will start their season Saturday, Dec. 12. That's quite a few months ahead of schedule.

For Jeffrey "Chip" Patterson, head coach of Fallbrook High School's varsity boys' volleyball team, it means a whole lot of things will be up in the air – not volleyballs, though – leading up to the season.

"The biggest problem we have is that these boys have to get physicals and all these things completed by a certain day in November," Patterson said. "Right now, unfortunately they have sent us a list of what everybody's physical status is. Probably from my last team, probably only three of them still have good physicals. So I have to email them and get them all to go get a physical."

An even more daunting problem is now that volleyball is moved up to the first of two sports seasons this school year, Patterson will be competing for athletes with other sports, like football.

"They might be like, 'Coach, I'm not playing volleyball,'" Patterson said. "So, that's what we are faced with right now."

The Warriors had been enjoying a relatively good season last spring when their season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic and all spring sports were canceled for the year.

He said last year they had five returners on the team and this year, they will have only three.

"This is going to be different," Patterson said. "I don't know what we're going to have this year."

For a sport like volleyball there is a lot of timing involved in the team aspect of the game and Patterson said there's going to be an accelerated learning curve when it comes to that.

But really, he's going to try to focus on the fundamentals of the game. No. 1 on his list was passing.

"Fallbrook was never a big volleyball school," Patterson said. "So with me, the primary focus is to always focus on the things that are the most difficult to learn. You spend a large majority of your time trying to make sure that they understand just to pass the ball. That it's the hardest thing to do."

Because, if a team can't pass the ball effectively, no matter how good your team's hitters are, it won't matter as the ball never gets to the setter.

"We work on passing and serving because if you can't serve, then you can't score," Patterson said. "If you go back and every time you serve the ball, you serve it into the net, obviously (the other team is) going to beat you. If you serve into the net 20, 50 times, they're going to beat you because all they do is serve the other 10 points that you couldn't pass."

Patterson said he's sent some instructional videos to the players, but not much as far as strategy or plays.

"We run plays, but it's only three basic plays we run," he said. "And when you run any play, a play has a combination of anywhere from five up to six different attacks.

"But primarily we always focus on working outside the middle, like making the outside and middle do things. We try our hardest not to work with the middle or the weak side because the setter can't see the person that he's setting."

Patterson said his son will likely serve as the team's setter for the upcoming season, and he's chomping at the bit to get back out there. He's been playing on his club team, which has helped.

"His friends, they want to get back on the court," he said. "But you're never going to really know until you make contact with that parent because that parent, (the student) could want to play all day long. But if they have parents are hesitant or afraid, they aren't playing that sport."

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected].


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