When Ali Galindo and Charlye Biggerstaff arrived for the Chico Lady Dragons’ first workout, they felt a little out of place.
The duo along with Charlotte McGuire are the only returning members from last year’s playoff team.
“It was really different,” Galindo said. “It’ll take a while to get used to.”
All three returners, who rotated in but didn’t start last year, suddenly find themselves as the leaders on a rebuilding team. It’s a role they welcome, following in the footsteps of multi-year starters and all-district players Hannah Avants, Malori Moss and Malori Umphress.
“We have big shoes to fill,” Biggerstaff said. “They were big leaders. We have to step up and lead.”
McGuire, a senior, earned the most playing time among the three last year. She put down 71 kills, 15 blocks and 44 digs. Biggerstaff, a junior, made 79 digs and 20 kills. Galindo, who played some at setter last season as a junior, finished with 31 kills, 12 aces, 162 digs and 67 assists.
Chico coach Missy Patterson hopes their experience from last year will pay dividends as they become the leaders for a younger team.
“They’ve played and been in that atmosphere,” Patterson said. “They can bring the other girls up to that. They need to transition to being leaders instead of followers.”
Galindo and Biggerstaff said that past experience will be a big help when the season starts and especially in district play.
“We experienced it and know what the others in the district are like, and how we have to step up our play to a higher level,” Galindo said.
Biggerstaff added: “We know what to expect.”
In the first four days of practice, Patterson said she’s seen that transition taking place.
“They’ve really stepped up,” she said.
As the three take on leadership roles for the team, they said they had good teachers on leading last year.
“They pushed you,” Biggerstaff said.
Galindo added: “They were always encouraging and didn’t bring anyone down.”
Getting used to the freshmen, sophomores and even a senior with them has taken some adjustment.
“We are having to adjust to players and a new setter [senior Martina Cantu],” Galindo said.
While there may be some growing pains this season as the trio take over leadership, they are approaching it with the best attitude.
“We just need to play hard, be smart and have fun,” Galindo said.