SPORTS >> Panther volleyball
Leader sports writer
Last year’s Cabot Lady Panthers volleyball team had plenty of talent, just not quite enough size to back it all up. From the looks of early practices this year, however, the size issue will be a thing of the past.
The Lady Panthers reported to the first practices last week in healthy numbers. A squad of 30, led by seven returning seniors, took to the Panther gymnasium to prepare for the 2006 season and their first venture into the 7A-Central Conference.
Head coach Terry Williams said the group came in ready to work on fundamentals, with very little conditioning needed.
“I feel like we are a little bit ahead of the game as far as conditioning goes,” Williams said. “Some of the girls worked with a trainer over the summer, and some of them worked on their own. Overall, they did a good job of reporting in good shape and ready for the first week of practice.
“They’ve been working hard. We still have a lot of spots open right now, our lineup has not been determined yet. There are still several positions that two or more people are going for, so it’s pretty wide open right now as far as who the starters are going to be in a lot of places.”
Even with a good core of seniors, --Williams says that starting positions will have to be earned with strong performances on the court, regardless of what grade each player is in. With several younger players adding much-needed height to the starting lineup could potentially posses more underclassmen than in years past.
“We have some height,” Williams said. “Some of them aren’t jumping real well yet, so we have been working on that. If someone has a 16” vertical (jump), we want them to use all of those 16 inches instead of just five or six.”
Along with morning practices at the Panther gym, the Lady Panthers are also taking part in a team camp at Hendrix College this week in the afternoon from Monday through Thursday. Sev-eral area schools are participating in the camp, including conference opponents Conway and North Little Rock. Among other schools at the camp are Vilonia, Morrilton, Greenbrier and May-flower.
With the luxury of two good workouts a day this week, Williams says the focus right now is on serving and passing, with emphasis on their hitting and blocking to come in future practices.
“We did a lot of passing and a lot of serving mixed in with our conditioning,” Williams said. “In fact, we are still focusing on our serving and our passing this week. Hitting and blocking will probably come in a lot more next week.”
The Lady Panthers will start their season at home on Aug. 22 with a varsity-only tri-match against Lonoke and Morrilton starting at 5 p.m.