|One divided by two: Owens, Ream playing to their strengths|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Oct. 7, 2005 - When one goes out, the other comes in. Each one playing to her strength has helped the Lady Cats.
SSHS seniors Laura Ream and Jessica Owens sub in for each other - Ream as setter and server on the back row and Owens as an outside hitter on the front row.
Their acceptance of their roles on the team has helped the Lady Cats flourish to a 5-0 district mark and 20-9 overall record. Ream is the Lady Cats' first server and one of two setters. When she's out, Owens plays not only outside hitter but is a secondary setter.
"We all get along really well," said Ream. "That chemistry that we have makes everything work. We have to keep everyone up and stay focused - that's how we do our best."
In the middle of the pre-district schedule, Owens injured her ankle and missed several weeks, which made head coach John McCullough juggle the rotation. Since she has returned to the lineup, the Lady Cats have ran off five straight victories.
McCullough acknowledged that having the players comfortable in their positions has contributed to the team gaining confidence and playing with more consistency.
"The fact that everybody is healthy and in their role, I think that has a lot to do with it. The girls are all working together and talking to each other on the court about taking care of their job," he said. "Everybody is doing whatever it takes as a team player for us to be successful right now.
"Laura and Jo complement each other very well. They're both seniors, and they're both playing like seniors."
They both have ideas about what they want to do after high school. Ream has plans to go to a University of Texas campus to become an accountant, while Owens is looking at a career in psychology.
Each has been playing volleyball since the seventh grade.
"Volleyball has always been the most fun to me, even though you have to work hard at it," said Owens. "The team seems to be really close together."
McCullough said that the hard work the players have put in has helped them draw together. Ream and Owens have each put in time to get better on the little things.
For Ream, it has been perfecting quick sets to 6-1 Kayla Morgan, and becoming a force while serving. For Owens, it's been using a deceptive hitting motion to generate kills.
"When Laura's on, her serve is tough because she has such a good top spin on the ball that it's hard for the other team to defend and pass," McCullough said. "She's our first server, and that kind of sets the tone for the game."
As for Owens, he said, "Jo is really, really starting to come on now. Her ankle is better and she's really starting to get her strength back. She had a great game the other night against Greenville. She had a block, a tip and couple of kills that were very important.
"In practice, we joke with her because we never know where she's going to hit it. She may hit it cross court or down the line and her arm angle never changes. It makes it hard to block, because she swings and all she does is turn her hand a little bit to direct the shot."
They will both be in action today when Sulphur Springs starts the second round of district play at about 5:45 p.m. when they host Paris. The Lady Cats will be attempting to become just the second SSHS squad to win an outright district championship in the 28 years that the school has played volleyball.