Lady Tide aim for return to postseason|
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
By Jaclyn Yingling Sports Editor
CURWENSVILLE - After going 9-9 in 2011 and losing in the first round of the District 9 playoffs, Curwensville head volleyball coach Sandy Bailor hopes to improve on that mark this season.
Bailor returns just five letterwinners, but admits that she has a group of hard workers for 2012.
"I have a group of younger girls, who have that competitive edge," she said. "They love to play the game and they are always asking questions. They are a group of perfectionists. Sometimes that's good, and sometimes that's bad.
"The good part is that are willing to learn the game and to perform at their positions the best to their ability."
Bailor's letterwinners include three seniors in Abby Johnson, Katrina Seaburn and Olivia Prave.
Junior Tierra Shope and sophomore Alaina Stiles also return.
Stiles and Prave will be the team's setters, filling a hole left by the graduated Madison Peterman.
"Alaina is very aggressive and very court smart," Bailor said. "She filled in last season at the setter position. She was on the serving line a majority of the time.
"Olivia will be the veteran setter on the court, and she is going to help us on the offensive side with her hitting ability, too."
Seaburn and sophomore Ciara Strickland will hold down middle hitter duties. Strickland will take over for her sister Savannah, who graduated after last season.
"Katrina has come a long way," said Bailor. "I think you are going to see a lot of nice things from her this year. She has really improved in the offseason.
"Ciara has some big shoes to fill, but she is very athletic and strives to do her best every time she is on the court. She will be fun to watch."
Shope and Johnson will play outside hitter, with Johnson taking over the full-time spot vacated by Ricki Wells.
"Both Tierra and Abby have worked hard in the offseason," Bailor said. "I'm looking to them to be a major part of our success, both offensively and defensively."
The team will also have to fill the holes left by libero Hannah Bressler and outside hitter Miranda Elensky.
"I agree we have some big holes to fill in our lineup, but the experience some of the girls received on the varsity level last season, we are hoping they will step up to fill those holes."
Bailor will look to senior Heather Pritchard, juniors Jenna Neeper and Melanie Milliron, as well as sophomores Logan Witherite and Jazmin Soult to step in as key subs.
So far Bailor has been pleased with her senior leadership, saying her four seniors have really risen to the challenge of having a large group of underclassmen.
"That's our biggest strength," Bailor said of her senior leadership. "Katrina, Olivia, Abby and Heather have brought a lot of unity to this team. They have helped the eight freshmen (on the junior varsity) tremendously and have earned the respect of the rest of the team."
With a total of 23 girls on the varsity and junior varsity squads, Bailor will look to assistants Lara Wiggins and Courtney Thompson for even more help during practices and games.
"No matter how many players you have, if you don't respect your players and they don't respect you or the coaching staff, it's going to hurt the coaching process," said Bailor. "If your players understand the concept of your program and they work hard for you, coaching is easy no matter the amount of players."
Despite a number of girls who played some significant time on varsity last year, Bailor said the one thing her team needs to work on is communication.
"We need to understand that in the game of volleyball you have to communicate," she said. "There is no time on the court you shouldn't be talking. It's hard to get them to understand that, so that's something we are working on."
One thing the Lady Tide seem to have down is the basics of the game. So far, serving, setting and hitting are some of the areas that Bailor feels her team is solid in.
"We are working to make sure our serves are consistent," she said. "We are also learning to place the ball in different areas to score points. We are also utilizing all of our hitters so that we aren't a one-dimensional team."
After finishing at .500 and making the playoffs, Bailor has once again set that as one of the team's goals.
"The most important thing is for these young ladies to learn the importance of teamwork, respect, commitment and believing that hard work does pay off. We want to represent Curwensville with dignity and good sportsmanship and give 110 percent every match.
"We want to have a .500 or better season and get to the playoffs. We want to finally win the first district volleyball championship for our school."
Curwensville opens its season on Sept. 4, hosting DuBois.
*Abby Johnson, *Olivia Prave, Heather Pritchard, *Katrina Seaburn.
Jenna Neeper, Melanie Milliron, *Tierra Shope.
Jazmin Soult, *Alaina Stiles, Ciara Strickland, Logan Witherite.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
4-DuBois; 11-at Brookville; 13-at Punxsutawney; 15-at Warrior Blast Tournament, 9 a.m.; 17-Clearfield; 18-DuBois Central Catholic; 25-Brockway; 27-Ridgway.
2-at Johnsonburg; 4-at DuBois; 8-at St. Marys; 11-Brookville; 13-at Kane Tournament, 8:30 a.m.; 15-at Moshannon Valley; 16-Punxsutawney; 18-at DuBois Central Catholic; 22-at Clearfield; 24-Moshannon Valley; 25-at Brockway.
All matches begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.