Lady Colonels looking to repeat district title
The Whitley County Lady Colonels volleyball team ended the 2011 on a sour note, losing to Corbin in the 13th Region finals. The Lady Colonels had put together a 21-win season and had beaten their county rivals twice in two very close games.
Coach David Halcomb lost four starters from that team, but it’s time to put last year behind them and move on. “I have fairly high expectations for our team. We will probably go through some growing pains early in the season,” he said.
“Once we get some things worked out and some of our kids learn their roles on this year’s team I think that we will end up being real competitive,” Halcomb said.
Whitley County returns only two seniors, Jordin Huddleston and Emily Wilson. “We have real good leadership with those two seniors. Jordin is a front row player and Emily plays on the back row. We are expecting big things out of them,” Halcomb said.
“We have several other kids that are young and inexperienced on the varsity level, but they have done well on the freshmen and junior varsity teams,” he said.
“One that really sticks out in my mind is Kelsey Osborne, she will be our setter and is a sophomore. I feel like she is a real good setter and is really cool, calm and collected on the floor,” Halcomb said.
“Some kids that did see varsity time last year were; Taylor Dingess, we need her to step up and Becky Miller. Those will be two of our front row players. Alexa Chaffman, playing Libero did a good job for us last year, so we are expecting some big things from her,” Halcomb said.
Briana Maynes, the News Journal and 13th Region Rookie of the Year, is back for her second year of varsity play. “I expect Briana to be one of the better players in the region again. She is one of our outside hitters,” Halcomb added.
“We have a real strong nucleus of kids, we just need to get some games under our belt,” Halcomb said.
The veteran coach has eight freshmen joining the team. It is one of the largest groups he has had in some time. He also added a couple of other players. “We were able to recruit within our hallways and got two kids that are getting better each day. Brandi Smith is one that we were able to pick up. She is probably one of the better athletes that we have in our school,” Halcomb said.
“JeniAnn Lawson, a junior, is another we got to come back to volleyball. Both of them played in middle school but sort of got lost some interest in it. I think they will really help the team as the season progresses,” he said.
As the season approaches this week, Halcomb feels his team’s strong point will be serving. “All six servers we will put in the rotation serve the ball pretty well. I think our front row play will be good. We have five or six hitters that can put the ball down fairly decent,” Halcomb said.
He added that it might take a while for this team to jell together on the floor. “That will be a big thing, but that comes with playing games. Defense is always something you can work on. They need to learn that instinct of where to be on the floor,” he said.
Whitley County will go into the district a heavy favorite to repeat as champions for the third straight year against Knox Central and Lynn Camp. “Lynn Camp and Knox Central showed some improvement late in the year. We are not going to overlook anyone and we respect those teams, so we are going to have to go out and play them and see what happens because we are young and inexperienced,” he said. “We are at a point were it could go either way for us.”
As far as the region, “I don’t think there will be any surprises. Going in Corbin will be the team to beat. They have Vanessa Wiseman coming back. She is a good player and they won it last year, so they will be the team to beat,” Halcomb said.
“South Laurel will be right there as will Harlan County. Jackson County and Clay County. I think those teams will start out strong and by the end of the season I think you can throw us in there as well,” he said.
Whitley County will play a 20-game regular season with two tournaments. They will go to the Boyle County Invitational, Aug. 17-18, than host their own tournament for the first time, Sept. 7-8.
“We are looking forward to our tournament. I started doing that with softball several years ago and decided to try this year to do a volleyball tournament with our First Priority Christian organization,” Halcomb said. “It is really coming together well and we have 10 teams coming in and will have to use the gym at our middle school. It will be a very competitive field of teams.”
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