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Payton De La Cruz, center, and Taylor Schile, right, both seniors at Eastview High School listen as their head coach Ted Reiff speaks to the team after a volleyball scrimmage at North St. Paul High School in North St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, August 20, 2
It’s a season in transition for Eastview volleyball. Thankfully, for new coach Ted Reiff, the pieces are already in place.
“I just have to make sure the ship keeps moving,” said Reiff, who spent the previous three years at Benilde-St. Margaret’s and eight years at Holy Angels before that. “The nice thing is that I’m walking into a very well-established program where the culture of competition and the culture of being organized has been there for almost 16 years.”
Those 16 years included the watchful eye of Becky Egan, who led the program the past 11 years before taking the head coaching job at Hamline University in St. Paul.
Thanks to his predecessor, Reiff’s integration into the program has been a smooth one.
“I’m just stepping in and all the parents are used to how things are going,” Reiff said. “The athletes’ expectations are fairly well-known. For me, it’s just making sure the ship keeps moving the same direction.”
Reiff has known Egan for a long time. Activities director Matt Percival also believed Reiff, who will teach science at the school, was the right person for the job.
“When we look for qualities in a head coaching candidate, being an in-building teacher and previous successful experience as a head coach are two characteristics that often rise to the top of the list,” Percival said. “Finding that type of candidate is often a difficult challenge. We are very lucky to have him at Eastview.”
Reiff also has a strong, confident and experienced coaching staff with him. Two are Eastview volleyball alums.
The Lightning lost five of its seven starters from last season, so it’s not just the coaching position that’s seeing a transition. There are a lot of new faces and contributions. Many of this year’s impact players were playing junior varsity or ninth-grade volleyball last year.
“We’re bringing them in under fire,” Reiff said. “The speed of the game — some of our athletes are just not used to that speed yet. We’ll train them and they’ll get there quick.”
Senior captain Taylor Schile has been playing varsity volleyball since eighth grade and starting since she was a freshman. Her leadership and experience will be invaluable.
“She’s always talking out there. She knows what’s open. She sees the court and takes as many balls as she can,” Reiff said. “As far as being a libero, she just commands a lot of the action out there. She’s driving the bus and everyone else is following through.”
Payton De La Cruz, a second-year starter, is a natural athlete who has dealt with some injuries. If she can stay healthy, De La Cruz will be instrumental. She’s athletic, knowledgeable and a quick decisionmaker, and she has great vision.
“I can’t really tell you who in the conference, other than Taylr McNeil and Alyssa Goehner, who are going to be the superstars, but I think Payton would be one of those players that coaches would just drool over if they could have her,” Reiff said. “She just does everything consistently well.”
The Lightning’s first home game will be against Wayzata at 7 p.m. Monday. The Trojans were ranked fifth in the State Coaches Association preseason poll. The young Eastview players will have to adjust to the varsity level quickly, and that’s a challenge they’re looking forward to.
“We’re going to be in the middle of things,” Reiff said. “We might be the underdog this year but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we’re not going to get used to it. The goal is to compete night in and night out.”