Polk County Volleyball Club's 13 Heather squad from the 2023 season (photo courtesy PCVC)

Savannah Webb is spending a lot of her free time of late buried in spreadsheets and email.

It’s a sign of a season of transition for Polk County Volleyball Club.

PCVC is preparing to gear up for its ninth season of operation. The club is holding tryouts on Sunday at Polk County High School, with a session set for rising sixth to eighth graders from 2-4 p.m. and another for rising 9-12th graders from 4:30-6:30 p.m. There is a $25 fee to participate in the tryouts (more information can be found on the club’s Facebook page).

It will be a start to a season unlike any other thus far for the club.

That begins with Webb, the former Polk County High volleyball standout and PCVC coach who is taking over this season as the organization’s director. Her tenure has had a busier-than-usual start due to the club’s decision to open tryouts and teams for the first time to players outside of Polk County.

Helping grow Polk County High School volleyball has always been a core mission of the club. So too is that decision to expand its operating territory.

“It was more that we wanted to challenge our girls more,” Webb said. “And also because we’ve had so much interest. We’ve had coaches and players, and coaches that want to come coach with us and learn from us.

“We’ve decided to open it because we feel like we’re doing good for the county.”

Webb noted that PCVC’s older teams last season included a mix of high school and middle school players, often putting the veteran players in the role of teaching and mentoring their younger teammates. Adding additional numbers to all teams will help change that.

“That was also the goal of bringing in outside girls,” Webb said. “We really want to make sure that we keep girls in their age group to challenge them and put them in situations that are going to help them.

“I know last year we had some seventh graders playing with 11th graders, and while they did phenomenal, we want to make sure we’re challenging them.”

The current plan is for PCVC to field four teams in the upcoming season, which typically runs from December to April. Ashley Self and Amber Styles will coach two middle school teams while Heather Drumheller and Ada Kelley will lead two high school squads.

That plan, though, could change.

“I did not anticipate the interest in coaches that want to come with us,” Webb said. “So if we get to tryouts and we have so many girls, we may have to open up and may have to bring in some other coaches. But right now we’re looking at two high school teams and two middle school teams.”

One other change for the season ahead is the decision to allow current fifth graders to try out for and join squads.

“We had a lot of parents last year that wanted fifth graders to try out because Polk County now lets sixth graders play,” Webb said. “They felt like their girls needed little extra time and touches on the ball. So we’re going to offer that this year.

“Again, that opens it up to more girls. I think we’re going to be shocked on tryout day with how many girls are there.”

Polk County High head coach Molly Hill will also remain involved with PCVC through the Academy program that launched last spring. Academy players practiced on Sundays and took part in monthly tournaments in Polk or Rutherford counties, remaining separate from the PCVC travel squads.

That program embodies the PCVC approach of trying to give every interested player in Polk County a chance to learn and play.

“Our goal is to give everyone the opportunity,” Webb said. “I don’t know that people understand the depths of how hard and how tight we try to budget and plan and do all these things so that players aren’t paying so much. We are a non-profit, so we aren’t making anything off this.

“This is a learning curve season for all of us. Opening it up has brought in new challenges, new requirements from Polk County Schools, insurance requirements. It’s a challenging year. But we are so excited. I can’t emphasize that enough.”