The entire team went through the ropes course, which teaches trust, leadership and communication through team drills, and it helped Wilder fit into a group of juniors that had been through some tough times together.
"It was fun," Wilder said. "I was scared to do some things at first, but they cheered for me and made me feel more comfortable."
The other five juniors were all on the varsity team last year as sophomores, when Boyle went 16-14 and lost in the finals of the 42nd District consolation bracket. The group had been friends even longer than that, but Melissa Shannon said things weren't always smooth between them on the court, especially early last season.
"At first, there was a little bit of competitiveness between us," Shannon said. "But we all are going to do what's best for the team, no matter what, which is going to help us.
"Last year at district, we didn't do as well as we expected and we based that a lot on team effort. We decided that we needed to become a team and quit worrying about everything else."
They worked on that at the ropes course. Stigall said Boyle is the only area high school volleyball team to take advantage of the course, which has a low and high level. The low level involves tasks like those seen on Survivor sometimes, such as using three boards to cross a long distance, and the high level involves crossing a wire with just a harness on.
All the tasks involve depending on each other
All the tasks involve depending on each other, something Stigall said she learned again. She hurt her knee several weeks ago and will not have surgery until after the season, necessitating the use of a knee brace. Stigall said the ropes course was a challenge for her because of that.
"They asked about support and one of the girls said I was a big support to them," Stigall said. "It was interesting because after that, they were such a huge support to me. It really is a mutual kind of thing. I learn from them and they learn from me."
The past two years have gone a long way toward building an on-court trust for Boyle's juniors, and both Lozano and Rachel Staub say this year should be even better.
"We learned a whole lot about trusting each other and how strong we actually are when we work together as a team," Staub said about the ropes course. "We learned this year when you get in a bind, don't freak out. We tended to do that last year, on the court, and that messes everything up."
"We're definitely sticking together more," Lozano said. "Last year, we were more spread out between the classes. This year we're definitely more attached to each other and we trust each other. There's nothing holding us back this year."
The lone senior on the team, Meagan Lankford, said she's been impressed by the juniors. She said the divisiveness that was apparent in the past is but a distant memory for this year's team.
"Up until this year, we've always had a problem with respecting each other, upperclassmen vs. underclassmen," Lankford said. "But this class, they are really ... I've never seen a class that's more together and works well and likes each other, not even just on the court, but at school as well."