Friday, August 15, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears have big expectations

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway believes his Lady Bear volleyball team is poised for a run at a conference championship this season, but is careful to explain that he in no way thinks it will be easy.

Sylvan Hills has seven seniors, including six returning from last season, and got a head start on offseason workouts. The result has been positive.

“I had tryouts in March this year when I usually have them in May,” said Treadway. “Of course I had girls doing other things at the time, but I felt like getting the earlier start has us further along right now than we have been. We came in and went two days a week to the weight room, and two days we went and got on the floor. Then when we came back in July, I felt like some of them were stronger and some of them were faster. I felt like we had accomplished a lot by the time we left for summer break, and I think you could see that when we came back.”

It also helps that there are so many experienced players returning. With experience and improved athleticism and conditioning, Treadway hopes this is the year his squad can bring home the 5A-Central title.

“We’re not the kind of team that can go out there and just intimidate teams,” Treadway said. “We’re going to have to play. But if I had to pick a spot for us, based on how we played last year and how I think we’re capable of playing this year, I think we can compete for a conference championship. But we have to play like we’re capable of playing. If we don’t, we’re not so much better than everybody else that we can get by anyway. But if we play like I think we can, I think we could have a lot of success this year.”

Anchoring the lineup is three-year starter Brooke Rainey, who will rarely leave the court this season.

“When she’s on the front row she’ll be our main hitter,” Treadway says. “She’ll play all the way around, though.”

Aleah Williams also returns as a key hitter while Karley Walton and Jessica Scott are fellow seniors on the front row as middle blockers.

Jamie Willis was awarded the libero position for her skill and hard work this offseason.

“She has really stepped up,” Treadway said of Willis. “She probably worked harder than anyone else. Any time we were hitting, she got on the back and tried to dig balls. I didn’t even have to ask her. She was asking teammates to just throw balls at her. So when I issued uniforms, I gave her a regular one, and then about halfway through practice I presented her with the libero uniform, so that was kind of fun to reward her like that.”

Alisa Staton is a senior who is one of the setters, and Jennifer Markum is a back row player who sat out her junior year.

Two juniors will be in the rotation early, including Taylor Yoeman, who is the other setter, and back-row player Maddison Shelton.

Two other juniors round out the varsity roster and the JV unit will be made up of nine sophomores.

“Right now, because of the progress we made in spring and summer, we’re working a lot on timing,” Treadway said. “We’re trying to learn to play as a team, get comfortable with who’s next to you and learn what to expect from each other.

“I took notes at the team camp we went to at Greenbrier. I wrote down the things I thought needed to be addressed and that’s where we’re at. But I’m pretty optimistic about this season.