Leader Blues

Monday, August 13, 2007

SPORTS>>Cabot girls have good numbers out for ’07

Leader sportswriter

Depth will be the major difference from last season for the Cabot Lady Panthers when they begin the 2007 volleyball season later this month. A total of 23 players turned out for the first two weeks of practice, leaving coach Terry Williams with the recently unfamiliar chore of cutting some girls before the start of the season.

Two injuries left 21 players on the court for Friday’s practice. Among the returning players are eight seniors and nine juniors, most of which have seen significant playing time last year. Most of the seniors were starters or at least frequent subs last year, giving the Lady Panthers a great deal of experience.

As of Friday, a number of spots were still up for grabs. Coach Williams was not ready to release any names, stating that she wanted to give everyone a fair shot before making her final choices.

“Things are still wide open,” Williams said. “A lot of them are in the process of showing what they can do. The seniors are still making their way as far as how to be leaders. It’s just too early to say anything for sure.”

The final half of the practice was a set of scrimmages between various squads. Varsity and JV-level players interchanged to give each squad a mix of size and skill. Williams says the progress made in the first two weeks of practice has been good, and that she believes that the added depth will make for a stronger team.

“Any rotation we are in, we can have three pretty tall girls on the front,” Williams said. “We have a lot of people to choose from. It’s good in a way, but it’s also bad, because if someone’s not out there, then they get their feelings hurt. There’s a lot still up ”

The Lady Panthers also participated in a team camp on Monday and Tuesday against North Little Rock, Beebe and Vilonia. It was a good showing for them at the camp, and Williams believes their second run through the 7A-Central Conference should be much more competitive. Cabot started out their ’06 campaign strong, but key injuries and lack of sufficient depth down the stretch forced the Lady Panthers to limp for most of the second half of the year. The added depth, along with more experience and height should make them more competitive against usual powerhouses in their conference such as Mt. Saint Mary and Russellville.

The Lady Panthers had seven players who appeared to be 5’10” plus, and three of the smaller players had excellent jumping abilities, which should give them an advantage at the front against many competitors. The serving and hitting appeared to be on par, with a little bit of struggles in the dig department. Williams says a major focus of the early practices has been getting to the ball quickly to allow easier set-ups.

“We’ve been working on that a lot,” Williams said. “They have done a good job reacting better. We have a lot of work to do in order to improve our consistency, but they have got the basics down pretty well.”