Sp Volleyball

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 5, 2008

Members of the 2008 South Panola varsity volleyball team include (front, l to r) Brandy Strickland, Timbrely Hines, Haley Lloyd, Sha’Vanta Harris, La’Quil Andrews, Ja’Tia Draper; (back, l to r) head coach Ame Fletcher, Penny Strickland, Stormy Robison, Deidra Henry, Bianca Broadnax, Kenzi Reed, Barbrelle Hentz, Sophia Brich and assistant coach Katina Kitchens-Lloyd. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Under new coach, SP volleyball seeing success

By Angie Ledbetter

The 2008 South Panola volleyball team is lead by new head Coach Ame Fletcher, along with her assistant Katina Kitchens-Lloyd.

Fletcher was nervous as first taking on the task of her head coaching volleyball team.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“When I first told them I would coach it, I was very nervous. It’s okay to coach something that you’re confident in and know about but I feel like it’s been a very humbling experience because I’ve learned along with the kids. I’ve enjoyed the challenge.”

The team was already formed according to Fletcher so she didn’t have tryouts.

“I did go and get some of our softball players who weren’t on the team who wanted to be involved in some kind of activity. I feel like there are athletes out there that would like to play and now that we’ve been having some success, I’ve had several people to approach me wanting to play. It’s difficult with other sports going especially with it being a sport that is newer.”

There are 22 girls on the team which includes four who play both varsity and junior varsity.

“Their attitudes are very good and you couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. They’re always willing to do whatever you ask and they want more practice and work. They’ve helped me grow.”

Thirteen girls make up the varsity team this year which include six seniors, Sophie Birch, Bianca Broadnax, Brandy Strickland, Timbrely Hines, Barbrelle Hentz and Kenzie Reed.

“Sophie Birch is one of our seniors who is a very out spoken leader as well as Bianca Broadnax. Both of them have played for several years,” Fletcher said.

Deidra Henry moved from Texas. Fletcher said she has a lot of volleyball knowledge so the girls have taken to her.

“She has taught them and me a lot,” she said. “I tried to put together a group that could build a team around her and what she is able to do. She is a very big leader but not so much a vocal one but on the floor. The kids look to her for leadership.”

The junior varsity team includes Ja’Tia Draper, Haley Lloyd, LaQuil Andrews, Lauren Calvert, Lindsey Calvert, Shaterrian Miles, Jeri Cooley, Iris Lester, Quaneisha Williams, Penny Strickland, Raven Hentz, Maryn McGee and Cynthia Cox.

When playing the games, you have to win the best three out of five for varsity and best two out of three for junior varsity.

“I don’t expect by any stretch of imagination that we’ll be a state champion right now but you have to have a winner’s mentality,” Fletcher said. “In the past they haven’t won a lot of games so every day I preach that you have to believe that you can win. I’ve had other people approach me that have seen our team and say you’ve got a good team, it’s just a matter of making them believe that. Yesterday I sent them a quote saying that you’ve got to have determination and confidence in order to be a winner. That’s something we talk about every day.”

Because of the state championship success of the football and softball teams, the other teams find themselves judged by that standard.

“Other people automatically expect you to come in and be good,” Fletcher said. “I feel like that should give them a little confidence but it’s making them believe that.”

Not every school has a volleyball team so there are only two districts. The smaller teams are in district two and the larger ones are in district one. South Panola is in the district with Southaven, Olive Branch and the Desoto County schools. Desoto County Schools have had volleyball teams for several years and it’s a big sport for them.

The team started the season on August 5 at Southaven.

“It was a very eye opening experience for someone who has never coached volleyball before,” said Fletcher. “I knew ahead of time going into it that they were going to be good. I got a lesson there but they say experience teaches us. Every since that game, we have really come around.”

The next game was at home with Center Hill on August 7. Fletcher feels they had a chance to win that game.

After that game, the Lady Tigers traveled to Clarksdale and had to play five games to win and they did it. Then they went to Water Valley and defeated them.

The team played Olive Branch on August 19.

“They are also very good. I do feel like we had an opportunity to win.  We were right there in it with them in every game but lost to them.”

The next game was at Byhalia on August 21 and South Panola defeated them.

“We probably played the best that we had all year there.”

The team played at Hernando and lost on August 26.

“Again I feel like we were right there in it with them,” Fletcher said.

Last Thursday, August 28, they played at Senatobia and played very well, according to Fletcher. They had to play four games and came from behind. They lost the first game but won three in a row.

The volleyball team was back in action at home on Tuesday hosting Hernando and hosted Clarksdale yesterday, but the results were not known at press time.

 The Lady Tigers will host Byhalia next Thursday beginning at 5 p.m.