Football's not the only sport in town
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

July 31, 2004 - John McCullough expects to take a little bit of time on Monday introducing himself to the SSHS volleyball girls. But, he doesn't expect to linger.

"We're going to get right into it," McCullough said Saturday as he prepared for the opening practice of the 2004 season as the new head volleyball coach. "We've got four days to get ready for the first scrimmage, so we're going to get started as quickly as possible."

McCullough is no stranger to most of the girls. Though this is his first year to coach volleyball at SSHS, he has been head softball coach and assistant football coach here for six seasons.

Volleyball practice opens for the varsity and JV teams at 8 a.m. Monday. They will practice for four hours each day through Thursday, leading up to their first scrimmage of the season at 2 p.m. Friday when they host Commerce. They will also scrimmage at Royse City at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The first game is set for Aug. 17, but McCullough is trying to find a game before then since the UIL allows interschool games to be played on Aug. 13.

The freshman team will practice from 6-8 p.m. each day before school begins on Aug. 16.

"We sent out 47 letters, so we expect between 45-50 girls to be here," McCullough said. "We've got a few girls out with the Dixie team that is in Tennessee at the World Series, and some others with ASA teams at nationals."

McCullough takes over a team that went 11-18 last season (3-7 in District 11-4A), but moves into a new district that includes Texarkana, Mount Pleasant and North Lamar along with holdovers Paris and Greenville, who both made the playoffs last season.

The Lady Cats lost First Team All-District middle blocker Panji Bounds, who was also the team MVP, to graduation, along with Stephanie Weller (Second Team A-D), Hollie Watson (honorable mention), Savana Gibby (honorable mention), Sara Barrett and Kristen Cross.

Returning lettermen include Casey Carper (Second Team A-D), Tara Gibby (Second Team A-D), Christina Patchen (honorable mention), NeNe Hynson and Stephanie Kethley.

"We have some good players returning from last year and some good underclassmen we expect to step it up," McCullough said. "I'll tell the girls that we expect to get back to the playoffs.

"Volleyball really sets the tone for the girls athletics for the rest of the school year because it's the first sport. We expect to have a good year and get the school year off to the right start."

He said 16-20 girls showed up last week during the open gym summer session.

"They seem really excited to get started. I think we're all ready to get it going."

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