The Lady Vikings celebrate after a crucial point in the second set against West Creek last season.

It’s no secret that the Northwest Lady Vikings have holes to fill heading into the 2020 volleyball season after a 12-14 2019 campaign. They graduated six seniors – most of which either started or played key roles in the rotation.

Talent is returning, including 2019 All-County second teamer Kaitlynn Furnish, but this offseason was meant to be one where the young team, bolstered by its 10-player junior class, could make strides toward improving upon last year’s middle-of-the-road finish. With only two seniors on the roster, Northwest could find itself at more of a disadvantage than other teams in the county that have more senior leadership.

“It’s not that I don’t think the juniors can’t (lead), but they just needed this time together to really continue that gel and that molding and that club ball they participated in and bring it together and use it (so) we can be successful this season,” said head coach Amy Furnish.

“I’m really excited about this ninth grade group. They had a great run as a middle school team. I would have loved to have been able (to be) hands-on with them for this extra time and really try to beef up those skills that they’d already been showing in (their) eighth grade year of volleyball.”

With CMCSS’s recent announcement, all teams in the county are sidelined until at least July 6.

Early on, Furnish took a relaxed approach, allowing players to take some time off, stating that 15 of the girls had been playing club volleyball leading up to the COVID-19 shutdown. She was not allowed to provide at-home workout plans at that point.

That said, coaches are now allowed to provide athletic guidance to players – something that was not permitted before June. Furnish is making the most of her opportunity to help build the team up before in-person training is allowed to return.

“Once we got the news that we would not be returning in June, we have since really pushed Google Classroom,” she said. “Within Google Classroom, we’ve been posting daily workouts, some ball handling drills, some positional footwork. Every day I try to do an inspirational quote or something of that (manner) just to give them that momentum to keep going.

“A lot of them are not really motivated because they fear they’re going to be put off. Right now, the hardest thing is getting them to find that motivation to get up and prepare themselves on their own for what we hope to be an opening in July.”

She noted that some of her players have been getting together with whomever they can, even if it’s just to hit the ball around for a little while to stay loose.

Furnish’s husband, Neil, is dealing with the exact same situation as the head coach of the Northwest football team. The duo, along with their two daughters who are athletes themselves, have helped keep each other grounded until sports are set to return.

“As always, we can kind of bounce ideas off of each other,” Amy Furnish said. “There’s days where he’s more upset about the issue than I am or vice versa and we can kind of help each other through… There are good days and bad days that we all have, but we have each other to help prepare one another.”

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