|Lady Cats open district schedule at home|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Sept. 20, 2004 - With no clear-cut favorite in the 12-4A volleyball race, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats have the opportunity to make a statement beginning tomorrow night.
The Lady Cats (9-9) host Paris (4-12) in the opening game of the 12-4A district schedule. Freshman and JV matches will start at 4:30 p.m., with the varsity to follow. It will be the start of three straight home games for Sulphur Springs, which has played at home just twice this season.
SSHS head coach John McCullough knows his team needs to take advantage of their home court.
"That's an important game. No. 1, it's the first district game, and No. 2, it's at home. We need to get started on a positive note," he said. "These first three games are very important, in my opinion, on how the district season will go because we're playing at home against teams we have a very good chance to beat."
The Lady Cats are the only 12-4A team with a .500 record. North Lamar, having played a tough non-district schedule, is 6-8, with Greenville, Mount Pleasant and Texas High with lower winning percentages.
"We had a pretty good pre-district season and played some pretty good teams in the tournaments we went to," McCullough said. "We've been playing pretty well the past two weeks, and hopefully we'll carry it over into the game against Paris tomorrow night."
After sweeping back-to-back matches from Chisum, and playing well to start off against Prairiland, McCullough has been encouraged by the way middle blocker Kayla Morgan has been playing. The team has a solid group of outside hitters in seniors Stephanie Kethley, NeNe Hynson and Christina Patchen, and juniors Tara Gibby and Hailey Watson.
The back row play of senior Casey Carper and junior Marlee Peugh has been strong all year.
"I think we're where we need to be starting district," McCullough said. "I feel like everything is starting to come together. We're blocking better, we've gotten a lot of kills the last three games, and defensively we're playing well. Hopefully, we're kind of peaking at the right time."
To beat Paris, he expects the Lady Cats will need to serve well to take advantage of their inexperienced back row, and keep their tallest player from getting in a spiking rhythm.
"If we can get the ball to the back row on our serves, I think that may get them out of sync. If we can get a free ball and set it up, we've got a good chance," McCullough said. "The most important thing is to take advantage of these three games at home to start the district season."