Friday, August 19, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot off in preseason outing

Leader sports editor

The Cabot volleyball team got its first taste of competition this season with a preseason benefit jamboree at Conway High School on Thursday. The matches didn’t count, but it gave Lady Panther coach Kham Chanthaphasouk a chance to spot some trouble areas going into the first official game next Tuesday.

“We were missing one of our outside hitters, so that was one thing that wasn’t quite right,” said Chanthaphasouk. “But really, it kind of seemed like everything was a little off. Even without Taylor Bell, though, the hitting was fine when we were able to get a good pass and set, but we made a lot of errors in those two areas.”

The jamboree featured a unique structure in which teams played one full set and one partial set against two different teams. Cabot lost both of its full sets, falling 25-17 to Conway and 25-23 to Vilonia.

It was the full set against Vilonia that had the head coach the most perplexed.

“We had a lot of unforced errors, missed serves,” Chanthaphasouk said. “We just gave them a lot of points. I think that if we had eliminated the unforced errors, we would’ve been just fine.”

When preseason officially began at the beginning of August, Chanthaphasouk was excited about the team’s play in camps over the summer. Despite the off night on Thursday, he’s still optimistic about the season.

“We know the potential is there and we know they can do a lot better,” the coach said. They’re a much better team than they showed last night. The focus wasn’t there for some reason. The key thing was a lack of communication. It just wasn’t them. There’s no doubt they’re a much better team than they showed in the jamboree.”

The Lady Panthers will have a few days to practice before they host 6A power Benton on Tuesday. The focus in those practices will likely be on the teamwork aspect of the game, rather than individual skills.

“We have a lot of individual talent, there’s no doubt about that,” Chanthaphasouk said. “It’s just getting them together. We have to learn to battle together. We’re going to fine tune those things in practice, work on being more vocal and communicating more.

“That’s what these jamborees are for, so you can spot things you need to work on that maybe you haven’t seen because you’ve only been going against each other for so long. We have a good core group of seniors. I think last night was just kind of an off night, and they’ll pick up from here and move forward.”

Cabot will also host Batesville at 6 p.m. Thursday at Panther Arena.