Tuesday, August 07, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears practice all night long

Leader sportswriter

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears volleyball team had its own version of Midnight Madness on Sunday night, with a practice session that went into the early hours of Monday morning.

It was a practice mixed with a slumber party-like atmosphere, as the evening got underway at 8 p.m. with food and games. The Lady Bears alternated between practicing and watching movies, while some slept through the latter stages of the assembly. A series of team drills started at midnight and ended around 3 a.m.

“It something I’ve been wanting to do for several years,” Lady Bears coach Harold Treadway said. “It was something different. We have a large group of sophomores, and it was a team-building type of thing. It gave everyone a little bit of time together other than on the practice court. Midnight may not be the ideal time to practice, but I got a lot of positive comments from it.”

Building team chemistry has been critical for Treadway, who is working with one senior in hitter Val Jarrett. Three juniors with limited varsity time return in Jordie Flippo, Michelle Sorensen and Ashton Williams, while juniors Shelby Simpkins and Maredith Vanderlugt come up from the junior-varsity squad this year.

The Lady Bears began their fall sessions with five practices before attending a team camp at Greenbrier on July 26.

“I was pleased with what we accomplished,” Treadway said. “We’ve been able to see what some of the sophomores can do as far as helping out with varsity, and I saw some surprises in a couple of the juniors. Everybody came back in about the same shape.”

Though experience was lost with most of last year’s varsity hitters and setters graduating, many of the underclassmen return with valuable Junior Olympic experience under their belts.

“The ones who have played (J.O.) have picked up things a lot easier,” Treadway said. “Some of the J.O. systems are similar to what we do. The positions might be a little bit different, but the ones who have played are always asking questions about what happens if a ball goes to a certain area.

“That makes practices go a lot quicker, and it sets a good example for the kids who have not played.”

Many of the faces are new on the players’ side, but the coaching staff is familiar with Lara Allred assisting Treadway with the varsity program as well as overseeing the junior-varsity group. Treadway and Allred have led the volleyball program at Sylvan Hills for several seasons now, as the two have filled in for each other during military deployments and maternity leaves throughout the years.

“I really enjoy working with her,” Treadway said. “She is a tremendous asset to the program. A lot of times, we’re on the same page; we read each other well. She works real hard with the J.V. program, and it’s just nice to have another set of eyes to evaluate what’s going on. Something we will do a lot of times in practice is we will switch, and she will work with the varsity group while I go over to the J.V. bunch, just to give the kids a different perspective on certain things.”

The Lady Bears open the play on Aug. 21 at Greenbrier.