McCullough pleased with effort, height of Lady Cats
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

August 4, 2004 - Sulphur Springs volleyball coach John McCullough likes the enthusiasm he has seen the past three days from his players during the start of pre-school practices. He also likes something about the team he can't coach - height.

He was pleasantly surprised to find out that he has more height on the team than he was expecting, starting with 6-footer Kayla Morgan and stair-stepping down to 5-11 Kelli Osborn and 5-9 Tara Gibby, Hailey Watson and Christina Patchen.

Morgan was injured and didn't play volleyball last season, and coaches weren't sure if Osborn would move out of town this summer. Having both of them in camp is a positive. Gibby and Patchen were both varsity lettermen last year, while Watson moves up from JV.

"Really, we have some good height, which I wasn't sure of before we got started," McCullough said. "Kelli Osborn and Kayla Morgan, they're both right at 6-feet. We've got a chance to have some girls on the front line who are tall and can jump. There's more height than I thought would be out there. That's kind of a bonus and good to see.

"I think our front line is going to be pretty solid."

The Lady Cats will get their first peek at their team on Friday when they host Commerce in a scrimmage at 2 p.m. They will travel to Royse City on Saturday for another scrimmage at 10 a.m.

One of the main things the coaches are doing to prepare for the upcoming season is working on a new, simplified defense.

"We're getting everything set up for the scrimmage on Friday. We're getting the new defense put in and working some on the offense," McCullough said. "It's just what you do the first few days of any sport, just working on the fundamentals.

"Talking with coach (Eric) Buck, we really felt we needed to make the defense a lot simpler this year, make it where there wasn't as much doubt in the girls' minds so they know the exact spot they need to be. In the past few days, it's looked really good."

The rest of the camp, which is from 8 a.m. to noon for the varsity and JV girls, has been spent getting the players in shape and working on serving, spiking, digging and bumping.

"We've been just getting back to the fundamentals, doing a lot of passing and setting, and putting in a new defense. We've basically been getting them back in shape. A lot of them are really sore right now from doing a lot of jumping and conditioning," McCullough explained.

"The girls have worked really hard the past three days. Everything we've asked them to do, they've done full speed. They're getting after it. Obviously, they're a little sore. They're a step slow right now because their legs are really sore. But, they have great enthusiasm. I've been impressed with a few of the girls on their serving. They're doing a great job getting their serves in."

He'll be more impressed if they continue doing that this weekend.

"I'm anxious to see how they will perform in a game situation on Friday and Saturday," the coach said. "We'll be able to tell more about what we need to work on then."

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