Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

SPORTS >>Panther volleyball ready to get going

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Lady Panthers began their season last night with a tri-match against Lonoke and Morrilton at the Panther gym. Head coach Terry Williams, now in her 30th year as head volleyball coach at Cabot, said her team was ready to go yesterday.
“I think they are ready to get out on the court with someone besides each other,” Williams said. “We want to know where we stand.”

She believes that the mature team is solid in every category, save for one. “Our serve-reception is going to make us or break us this year,” Williams said. “We are hitting and blocking well, but we are not passing well on our serve-reception. If we don’t get that down, we could be in trouble.”

The Lady Panthers’ biggest struggle last year was being outsized by most of their opponents. The larger 27-player roster has added quite a bit of size to this year’s team, but Williams says that while she is happy to have the extra height this year, confidence rather than pure size will be the difference with her girls this season. “We have gotten a little more aggressive, and a lot more confident,” Williams said. “Most of them saw plenty of playing time last year, so they’re not going to go out there scared. They are a little more sure of themselves; they are not going to be petrified out there.”

As expected, the seniors and juniors have looked very good in the early practices. Returning to the team this year is senior Kelly Lowry, who quickly became Cabot’s ace-hitter last year. Joining her on the hitting line this year is junior Katie Mantione, who brings plenty of height to the team. Senior Kim Carter has also stood out in the late-summer workouts, giving the Lady Panthers a trio of talented hitters.

Defensively, blockers Ashton Seidl and Erika McCaghren have led the team on the right side of the court through camp.
The numbers look good for the Lady Panthers on all accounts heading into the opening game. Along with added height and experience, there are simply more of them this year. Around 30 players took to the early practices, and 27 of them are still on the roster. Williams says that as far as she is concerned, the more the merrier.

“We have a few more than we did last year, but we can always work that out,” Williams said. “If they are willing to stay and work hard, there’s a place for them. We can get them out on the court and let them play some. It’s a good group, and if there is someone pushing them along the way, they will only get better.”