Friday, July 28, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> SH mixes youth and experience

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills volleyball team returns a lot of experience from last year’s squad that finished third in the 5A blended conference to which it belonged. The Lady Bears will have eight seniors, including seven who were on the team last season, and five that were part of the varsity squad. Aliya Hatton also returns as a junior with varsity experience. The most athletic player on the team, Hatton will be one outside hitter for the Lady Bears.

Seniors Kelsey McQueen, Anna Snyder, Cory Chessman, Grace Turner and Lydia Young all have varsity experience. Seniors Alexis Knight and Scarlett Averett were on the JV last year, and senior Lexi Spirdov sat out last year after transferring from North Pulaski.

“We should have quite a bit of experience,” said Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway. “I have had much of a chance to see them. We went to one team camp this week and we’ve had a few practices, but I think I’ve got some younger kids that might contribute as well.”

Treadway took 16 players to a team camp on Wednesday at Greenbrier. Scores weren’t kept, but he felt good about how the team competed.

“They were a little nervous the first game, but after that they were really competitive with everyone,” Treadwaysaid. “I used all the 10th graders as strictly a JV group to start with, and the thing you could see they were having trouble with was the speed. But I thought we picked up on it and played together faster than we have in the past.”

Snyder started at libero last year and is joined on the back row by starter McQueen. Turner returns in the middle while Chessman and Young will be outside hitters.

“Chessman is another natural athlete,” Treadway said. “She’s a cheerleader and just a great athlete that does a lot of things well. Hatton probably gets a little higher in the vertical, but Chessman is going to be key for us on the right side.”

At 5-feet, 9-inches, Turner is the tallest player on the team, but lack of size is something Treadway is familiar with.

“We deal with that seems like every year and we’ve been pretty successful,” Treadway said. “Sometimes I’d like to take a sample set with me to see what’s in the water at these other places, because we’re always undersized.”

One key position that hasn’t been filled is setter, and Treadway is looking at a freshman transfer from Texas named Riley Parker for that position.

“She really did a good job,” Treadway said of Parker’s performance Wednesday. “She was a little overwhelmed early on by the speed and how hard the teams were hitting it, but once she realized they’re not superheroes, and just regular people who happen to be a year or two older, she did fine. Her court awareness is really what impressed me. She knew where she’s supposed to be and where her teammates are.

“We’ve got another couple of little mini camps coming up next week so we’re going to take a longer look at her, as well as some of these other sophomores to see if they’re ready to move up.”

Preseason officially begins on Monday and the team will report that day. The team will travel to Conway for a three-team mini camp with St. Joseph and Morrilton on Tuesday. Those same three teams will reconvene Thursday at Morrilton.

“I’m looking at the possibility of moving up three sophomores and the freshman,” Treadway said. “I don’t know a whole lot just yet, but we’re going to be taking a look at them and we’ll decide by the first game.

Sylvan Hills’ takes on live competition for the first time on Aug. 17 when it hosts Hot Springs Lakeside for an AHSAA benefit game.