Players set, served and spiked their way through a series of rigorous drills on Monday night in Bear Valley, as part of the first annual 2014 Mountain Spike Volleyball camp that is taking place this summer.
Open to boys and girls ages 9-14, the camp is designed as a way for kids to get a "feel" for the game, or just keep their skills strong and stay on top of their game during the off season.
The camp's head coach Kim Yokoyama, who has played at various levels of competitive volleyball since childhood, said she was thrilled with how many campers turned out.
"We had a lot more than I expected, and I was really excited to see how many new players there were wanting to learn more about the sport of volleyball," she said.
The camp will take place for seven Monday nights, through July from 5-8 p.m. at the Whiting Community Center in Bear Valley Springs.
Campers will be grouped according to age and abilities.
According to Yokoyama, beginners will learn the different positions, how to score and the fundamental skills of volleyball -- passing, serving, setting, attacking, blocking and defending. They will learn these skills through various drills, some of which will incorporate fun things like wearing oversized t-shirts to learn to catch the ball or using eggs to teach soft handling.
"It's all designed to keep the younger players engaged," Yokoyama added.
Meanwhile, advanced players will learn muscle memory, repetition and rhythm, through drills and practice games.
They will also play games with the younger players, taking on the role of teachers themselves, learning valuable leadership skills.
"This is very important for our community," said Beth Hibbard, one of the camp's three assistant coaches who played volleyball five years at UC Riverside. "I am really happy that we were able to put this together for the kids to learn this wonderful sport."
According to Yokoyama, the short term goal of the camp is to first generate interest in the sport of volleyball, especially in the camp's younger participants.
"We tend to have the mindset that kids don't start playing volleyball until around junior high age," she said. "Our children all play soccer, baseball and basketball at a young age, and I want everyone to embrace volleyball like we have all of the other sports."
As for the long term, Yokoyama added that she hopes to have a camp every single year in Bear Valley, which keeps growing, and eventually a club that would compete with teams from Stallion Springs and the City of Tehachapi, both of which are holding their own volleyball camps later this summer.
We have so many great venues to play volleyball," she said. " I say we need to use them."
For individuals interested in learning or improving their volleyball skills in a challenging and fun environment, contact the Bear Valley Mountain Spike Volleyball camp by calling 661-821-6641. Registration is still open to all, including non-residents who are sponsored by a BVS resident.