Monday, August 01, 2011

SPORTS >> Panthers young

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

Youth will be the main feature on the 2011 Cabot volleyball team, which will be coached this year by DeAnna Campbell, the first person besides Terry Williams to coach Cabot volleyball in more than two decades.

Campbell has been teaching in the Cabot School District for the last six years, but isn’t new to the sport. She previously coached at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, Canyon High School in Texas and most recently at Central Arkansas Christian in North Little Rock.

She left coaching six years ago with two small children and a husband who also coaches, but with the daughters now older and interested in volleyball, the time was right to get back into it.

“It just so happened that my girls started showing an interest in volleyball, and just at the same time is when coach Williams started talking about retiring, so it all just fell into place,” Campbell said.
The new face at the helm will be joined by several new faces on the court. The Lady Panthers’ 19-person roster includes 11 sophomores, five juniors and only three seniors.

“We are very young,” Campbell said. “We’re going to have very few that  have much varsity experience, so we’re kind-of starting from scratch. We’re taking our young ones step-by-step and getting better each day.”

The team has been going through summer workouts since July 5, and just completed a skills camp that was provided by Arkansas State University at Cabot’s home gym.
“That was a really good thing because they came here, and those things are always very helpful, especially when you have such a young team.”

The main focus in the summer workouts has been ball control. The team is not blessed with a lot of height, although it wouldn’t be considered a small team, but it is, according to Campbell, an athletic bunch.

“We’ve got some quickness and some athleticism, so we feel like if we can make fewer mistakes than our opponents, we can win a lot of matches,” Campbell said. “So we’re really stressing ball control, especially with passing. I think we’re going to be able to get to a lot of balls this year, and we’re really working on making good passes once we do that.”

Progress is always an early key with a young squad, and Campbell says the team is making progress in leaps and bounds.

“They’ve made huge improvements,” Campbell said. “It’s really a smart group and they learn fast, and they’re really trying to learn to do things the right way, the right technique, the right form. It’s been a really productive summer.”

The players on the team have noticed the progress as well.

“They’re excited about it,” Campbell said. “The more they see the results, the harder they work. They’re asking to stay after practice and work some more. Things are really going in a good direction.”

The team just started conditioning work in earnest this week. The squad alternates running and lifting, running before practice on one day, then lifting after practice the next.

The squad is going to Jonesboro on Saturday for a team camp with other schools in the area. After that one-day camp, the Lady Panthers will take part in a four-day camp at Hendrix College in Conway that begins next Monday.