Curtis banking on lettermen to lead team: Lady Cats’ first scrimmage is set for Saturday

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

Aug. 7, 2008 - In Rachel Curtis' second season as the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats volleyball head coach, this should be a very entertaining year.

With seven returning lettermen on the Lady Cats roster, led by District 11-4A Newcomer of the Year Maurie Lewis, senior First Team outside hitter Mackenzie Cross, senior Second Team outside hitter Baleigh Butler and senor Honorable Mention hitter Brittani Crawford, the Lady Cats are poised to improve on a 13-23 record one year ago. SSHS also has Kelsey Smith, Krista McMahan and Katie Dodd returning this season.

"They are doing a good job right now and they are really stepping up and leading the team," Curtis said of the upperclassmen. "When the underclassmen have to run, they are going over there and running with them and they are showing some good character. I am proud of them and they are good young ladies, and they are showing the freshmen how to be out here and be a good person."

Curtis said the first four days of workouts have gone the way she had hoped they would in preparation for their first scrimmage of the year Aug. 9 at Wills Point. The Lady Cats will play Wills Point, Mabank and Terrell before hosting Commerce in an Aug. 11 scrimmage.

"The practices have been going good," the coach said. "We go four hours every day with breaks in between and for the first hour-and-a-half we do some agility and running drills. During the second session, we go into individual drills, and today we were able to get into a lot of team drills with transition and offense and defensive drills."

"The girls who were at the Edge this summer have got so much higher in terms of their endurance level and their conditioning. They are where they need to be and the girls who did not attend the Edge, I think they are learning real quick they need to be there next summer."

With the varsity players having a year under their belts under Curtis, she said Saturday's scrimmage will mainly be for them to work on the perfecting their games in all areas on the court.

"Last year, we were really working on fundamentals and this year ourpassing has been very consistent during practice," she said. "Hitting-wise we are miles ahead of where we were last year. We also have some more height this year with a couple of girls we have brought up and we hope they will compete for us."

She said with their first regular season game slated for Aug. 15 against Mount Vernon and Chapel Hill in a dual match at Wildcat Gym, the non-district schedule should prepare them for a chance at a playoff berth this season.

"The non-district schedule is extremely important because we are going over to Frisco to play this year and we have some other competitive teams, so we are ready to go," Curtis said. "We are ready to go with this tough district schedule that we are going into and we need all of the work we can get."

NOTES: The schedule for Saturday's multi-team scrimmage at Wills Point follows: 9 a.m. - Wills Point vs. Terrell; 9:45 a.m. - Mabank vs. Caddo Mills; 10:30 a.m. - Sulphur Springs vs. Wills Point; 11:15 a.m. - Terrell vs. Caddo Mills; noon - Mabank vs. Sulphur Springs; 12:45 p.m. - Wills Point vs. Mabank; 1:30 p.m. - Terrell vs. Sulphur Springs; 2:15 p.m. - Caddo Mills vs. unknown opponent.

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