Lady Cats open volleyball practice Monday

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 1, 2008 - While the guys out on the SSHS football practice fields will get more notice when they start two-a-day practices on Monday, the girls inside the SSHS gym will be working just as hard.

The Lady Cat volleyball girls start workouts on Monday as well in preparation for their second season under head coach Rachel Curtis.

The Lady Cats will be practicing from 8 a.m. to noon, with three 20-minute breaks worked in. All three teams (freshmen, JV and varsity) will work out at the same time.

Curtis has an advantage over last season, her first at SSHS, because not only has she had a full season and offseason under her belt, she also had the girls working out at The Edge during the summer and in the gym playing in a volleyball league.

She will be working under the premise that the girls are ready to go, full-speed.

"They need to be ready," she said. "It's going to be intense two-a-days. Those who were at The Edge this summer will have a definite advantage. They'll already be in condition. Those who haven't come to The Edge will be hurting.

"I think this year we have a huge advantage because we've been playing this summer and we've been having open gym. Last year, the girls hadn't picked up a volleyball in six or eight months. I feel like that's really going to help us get going."

The Lady Cats also have an advantage in that they return seven lettermen from last year, including four who were All-District. Junior setter Maurie Lewis was the District 11-4A Newcomer of the Year while senior outside hitter Mackenzie Cross was First Team, senior outside hitter Baleigh Butler was Second Team and senior hitter Brittani Crawford was Honorable Mention.

Other returning lettermen are seniors Kelsey Smith, Krista McMahan and Katie Dodd.

Curtis said the team will do all its conditioning the first hour, then get into individual and team drills. They have just a week to prepare for their first scrimmage on Saturday.

"We're still going to be doing a lot of fundamentals," she explained. "Last year, we spent a lot of time on passing, and I think we're pretty accustomed to it now. So, we're going to spend more time on hitting this year - more explosive-type hitting and more aggressive hitting now that we can pass well.

"We're going to be doing a lot more back row attacks and being more aggressive rather than always being on defense. I do have a couple of girls who have some height coming up, so I hope they will grasp the fundamentals and step up."

Sulphur Springs goes into a newly-configured District 13-4A this season, and the Lady Cats have played only Mount Pleasant and Texas High out of their six district opponents.

"Our district is going to be pretty good," she said. "A lot of them have pretty good volleyball traditions. My philosophy has always been not to worry about the opponent, just to take care of our business. These girls are hard-working, and I know they'll do what they need to do to be successful."

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