TeAna Tramel admits she’s not an expert on Class 6A volleyball.
She also is aware Muskogee hasn’t made a state tournament since the program started in 2005.
But she’s aware of her starting point, and it’s 68 kids spread over five teams - varsity through junior high.
And it’s just a starting point.
“We’ve got very specific individual and team goals that don’t involve going to play somebody,” said Tramel, one week before the 2022 season gets underway. “We’re controlling what we do. I think the buy-in, the building of the relationships and setting the culture and tone are the things that will make this a place people want to come and play at.”
Seniors Maddi Havens and Ella Ross, juniors Ellie Jiminez and Alexis Rodriguez and sophomore Raegan Essex are a mix of returning players who had starting time, but limited starting time, in a 11-20 season that once stood at 11-10.
Khloie Doughty and Bailee Russell are junior newcomers that will be part of the core mix.
The first step in assimilation was relationship-building.
“Being able to come in in January was huge,” said Tramel, who . “That gave me that many more extra months to start building relationships.
“We’re lucky that the girls who are volleyball are mostly volleyball players. We had a couple in spring sports, and when they came for summer pride it was a chance to see some added depth,” she said. “The spring was just a chance in a non-competitive environment to just build relationships.”
They competed in the Catoosa Summer Series on Thursdays.
“We were competitive,” she said, in a situation that involved some 6A teams. “I try not to look in to the end result of that because it’s summer and you have vacations and kids missing. They’re trying to get better, we’re trying to get better, and our focus is on controlling our own program. I’m proud of the effort I’ve seen and the work they’ve put in.”
Tramel’s high school coaching experience has been over nine years at Chouteau and Claremore Sequoyah. She started out as a college assistant at South Dakota State who played collegiately at Louisiana-Monroe and New Mexico State.
“So I’m not the expert on 6A volleyball,” she said. “But again, here it’s about putting together a program and understanding the depth of the system I’m bringing, evaluating my setters and hitters to find out who is meshing, who is working well together. We’ll have several different rotations and probably do that for a good half of the season. We’re not young grade-wise, but we’re young volleyball-wise.”
Muskogee opens Tuesday at home against Owasso, then get Bixby the following Tuesday. Outside of the Muskogee Invitational in two weeks, they have only one home game (Sapulpa, Aug. 30) before Wagoner on Sept. 22.
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Randi Pawpa adds a duty.
The girls basketball coach will tack on volleyball to her jurisdiction this season, inheriting four starters from a 2-26 squad that has plenty of room to move up.
“We’ve had 2-3 weeks of really good practices,” she said. “We have had good scrimmages and able to play a lot of people in a lot of different positions. We’ve got a good strong group of girls to work with and they are very coachable.”
Seniors Makenna Turney and Abby Humphries and juniors Presley Olson and Lanie Brown are returning starters. Dawci Butler is a freshman who will contribute.
Wagoner won’t begin play until the Tahlequah Sequoyah Tournament on Friday.
The Lady Mustangs went 19-12 under Andrea Collins and made their first state tournament since 2019 last year after an 11-19 mark in 2020. They lost in the quarterfinals in Class 3A and also lost three four-year starters including All-Phoenix MVP Lexi Erb and Defender of the Year Riley Walters. Back are seniors Janie Hurd and Alex Collins, a sophomore. Sophomores Mylee Hill and Addison Delue will be called upon as well.
Okay begins the season at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Pryor.