Tuesday, August 09, 2011

SPORTS >> Cabot ladies stellar at Hendrix

Leader sports editor

The Lady Panthers’ young volleyball team is coming together nicely under first-year Cabot coach Deanna Campbell. The team just completed a week of camp games at Hendrix College in Conway against eight other schools from around the state.

In all, Cabot played 13 matches with varsity players playing the first game of each match. The varsity squad won 10 of those 13 first games, and pleased its new head coach.

“They came out fearless, ready to play anybody,” Campbell said. “This group really is made up of a bunch of competitors. I was very pleased with the way they played.”

Despite a team being loaded with sophomores, a few juniors and even fewer seniors, the team handled their first competition with more maturity than might have been expected.

“We only had one kid out there this week that had any varsity experience at all,” Campbell said. “There were seven new kids with no varsity experience at all, even three upperclassmen had only played junior varsity. They all stepped up and played well.”

With Cabot having two ninth-grade programs, many of the sophomores had never played with each other, but even that didn’t seem to be an obstacle for cohesiveness on the court.

“They looked like they had played together for a while,” Campbell said.

While it was a great first-step performance for a young, inexperienced team, it wasn’t a complete performance. There were areas that Campbell identified that need plenty of work, but the head Lady Panther doesn’t see any of those things as major team weaknesses.

“Really the only areas where we didn’t perform well in, are the ones that we haven’t worked on yet,” Campbell said. “It was just game-experience stuff like transitions, defensive coverage on outside and middle hitting. On offense we’re doing really well right now.”

How the team performed in the areas it has worked on was positive for multiple reasons.

“Everything we worked on and talked about in practice, they went out and executed,” Campbell said. “I’m very excited the younger players just got out there and did what we work on every day. It really shows you the kids really care about getting better because they’re taking it in and learning what you’re teaching them.”

Conditioning is an ongoing process. Campbell says the team is not where it needs to be, but that is also something the players are working towards, and will need early in the season because depth is not great as of yet.

“One thing we have to work on is stamina, physical and mental,” Campbell said. “We’ll be deep as far as talent. It’s a very talented young group. We’ve got at least 10 kids that can play at that high level. I just don’t know if we have that for a five-game match. We’ve got to develop some more depth and increase our mental and physical stamina.”

Cabot’s first official game of the season will be Aug. 23 at home against Lonoke.