Newly appointed Lady Pirates’ coach has state aspirations

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POLSON VOLLEYBALL coach Lizzy Cox instructs her team during practice Friday morning at Polson High School. Cox, who will replace now retired coach Patricia Luetzen, will take on her first full time coaching position in the United States. Cox has coaching experience in Europe. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

Newly appointed Polson High School volleyball coach Lizzy Cox will have some big shoes to fill in what will be her first-ever high school coaching gig.

Cox will take over for established volleyball coach Patricia Luetzen, who retired after her coaching career spanned over three decades and coached the Lady Pirates volleyball team the previous four seasons after a well-established coaching career in North Dakota.

Cox, who was an assistant coach under Luetzen for two seasons, said she learned a significant amount from Luetzen in her two years coaching with her as she prepares to lead her Lady Pirates into the 2018 season with the Browning Tip-Off Tournament Friday and Saturday morning at Browning High School.

“Patty was just awesome to work with,” Cox said. “I had played a ton of volleyball and coached volleyball. I was able to learn (from Luetzen) how to structure a practice, have a practice plan and just time everything out.”

Cox said she has different performance goals for different parts of the year for her team to reach.

“We are going to change our goals from the preseason to the middle of the season to the end of the postseason and it’s intimidating when you look at it,” Cox said. “We are probably going to build upon how to run practice and get the most out of our time (as the season progresses) and see how the time goes.”

With some of the top-tier high schools in Polson’s conference, Cox said she wants to modify her plan of attack in order to compete with some of the elite teams of the conference like Whitefish and Columbia Falls.

“I just think quickening up our offense against some of the bigger blockers and bigger girls that don’t’ move as well, getting our feet to the ball in the preseason and being scrappy will allow us to be competitive,” Cox said. “We are going to be scrappy and go after everything. We have to react quickly in order to run in a quick offense in return.”

In order to successfully install that quick offensive scheme Cox is aiming for, she has worked on getting her players conditioned to be effective and quick on the court.

“We will have to be in shape in order to get off the ground and have that quick conditioning with a super fast twitch to get off the ground to attack the ball,” Cox said.

Cox, who came from a successful volleyball program in Eastern Washington, learned everything she did about volleyball under a hall of fame coach Wade Benson.

“I came from a really successful high school program and our coach had 13 state titles, 17 total state appearances and just retired this year,” Cox said. “I came from a program that was successful. I took from (my coach) a lot of little things such as the one-hour run. Everyone knew you were going to have to be able to run for an hour. There are some other things I want to copy. That just set the tone for the season and you have to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

In her first season as the Lady Pirates’ coach, Cox hopes some of the conditioning drills will translate into victories and in order to do that, she is trying to build team unity among her players.

“I think one of the main things that you have to do in order to have a successful program is really care about each other and know that you are going to make each other better,” Cox said. “I (as a coach) am going to make you better and competitive. It’s never a combative thing but they are pushing each other really hard. The reason that person is hard on me is because they really care. I am going to be hard on these girls because I want to push them and help them grow.”

Cox has two main goals to get Polson past divisionals and earn their first state bid in some time. In order to do that she has to compete with some top-tier opponents that are a fixture at state every season in their own conference, teams like Columbia Falls and Whitefish.

“We are going to set our goals and be really smart about achieving our goals,” Cox said.

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