They’ve already been tested, now they just need a little polish.
The Destin Middle School Marlin volleyball team tipped off its season this week with two road games. They split with a win at Liza Jackson in Fort Walton Beach and then a loss to the Ruckel Rams of Niceville.
Nevertheless, first-year Destin Coach Allison Gnuse said the teams shows a lot of promise.
“It’s a talented team. A good group of girls and they get along well,” said Gnuse, who comes to Destin from Springfield, Illinois, where she coached volleyball for seven years. “I think they’ve got a good chance this year … we’re just polishing some stuff.”
Last year, the Destin Marlins made it to the Okaloosa County Championships where they lost to Ruckel.
This year they are hoping to make another run at it.
“They are a hustling team, they hustle a lot,” Gnuse said while the girls were running through their drills Thursday afternoon.
The majority of the Marlins are returnees from last year’s junior varsity team.
“I have one new player, one new eighth grader and I pulled up two sixth graders, because we didn’t have any seventh graders returning at all,” she said.
So this year’s squad is primarily all eighth graders.
Varsity players include Taylor Flint, Arleigh Foster, Gabi O’Brien, Jordyn Powell, Kathryn Ballard, Sydney Wilbur, Lindsey Bouck, Sloane Porter, Allison McCraw, Jessica Pierce, Kyla Buehner and Lauren Sprenkle.
In the two road games earlier this week, Gnuse said they were “in” the Ruckel game.
“It was a very promising game in the first match, but then we kind of fell apart in the second match,” she said.
“We are really working on that mental part of the game,” Gnuse said, noting the serve returns were an issue.
On the opposite end, the Marlins hit their serves.
“Our serves were good,” she said, adding the team made 88 percent of their serves. “They nailed some really important serves in that first game, but in our second match we just fell apart it. It was serve receives that killed us.”
As for the game against Liza Jackson, the Marlins came out with a win.
“We had a lot to work on, but they came back and they showed up to play at Ruckel,” she said, but came up short.
Up next for Destin is a 5 p.m. Tuesday game at home against the Pryor Pirates.
“We’re excited about the season,” Gnuse said.