By Tim Chambers
The current play of Johnson County’s volleyball team is night and day compared to last season. The inexperienced Lady Longhorns suffered some lopsided defeats in 2015 including a few where they had trouble scoring. That’s not the case in 2016.
Their progress cannot be determined by just wins alone because the team is still in the rebuilding stages. But the Horns have found themselves in most of their matches and many have been settled by a tiebreaking set.
Johnson County 3
Happy Valley 0
The Longhorns pulled off Happy Valley by knocking them off for the second time this season. They defeated the Warriors 25-14, 25-16 and 25-15.
Coach Donna Poteet singled out the play of her seniors, Eden Fenner, Caitlin Leonard and Faith Poteet.
“Eden played about as well as one could play at libero,” said Poteet. “She kept many balls alive with her all out hustle that resulted in numerous digs. Caitlin dominated the net and had several kills. Faith did a great job of playing the middle and I thought Kam Sluder had one of her better games.”
Varsity swept by North
Last year the Golden Raiders had Johnson County down 20-0 in one match but that wasn’t the case this time around. The Lady Longhorns made it a game but fell 18-25, 18-25 and 17-25 in straight sets.
Poteet was pleased with the play of Brittney Brooks and Courtney Brooks in addition to Fenner, Leonard and Poteet.
“We played hard and did some good things but a few mistakes here and there just killed us,” said Poteet. “We’ve made up a lot of ground on them since last year but we still have a ways to go. I’m proud of them for playing close but we must take that next step and learn how to win.”
Unicoi County 3
Johnson County 1
The Longhorns finally found a way to pull off a big set victory but couldn’t take the match after playing Unicoi County close.
They took a 25-21 win in the third set after the Lady Devils had taken the first two.
On Saturday they earned a win over Holston at the Patrick Henry tournament.
The defeated the Cavs 25-14 and 16-14 in the tiebreaker. They fell 24-26 in a tight-fisted second set.
During the day they won a set over Union 25-23 before dropping the final two. They took George Wythe down to the wire before losing in two close matches.
“Last year we couldn’t compete with most teams but this year they’re holding their own,” said Poteet. “We had some girls out this week but others stepped up and played well. Eden had to play a new position on Saturday and so did Faith. Caitlin made several good plays at the net and Kam really elevated her play. Courtney and Brittney keep getting better and so do Margaret and Renie Morrow. We’ve closed the gap but now we must learn how to win.”
Junior Varsity and
The freshman team picked up conference wins at Happy Valley, Sullivan North and against Unicoi County at home this week. The Junior Varsity finished second in the silver division tournament at Science Hill and later earned two conference wins.
“Our JV’s had a big win over Tennessee High last week,” said Poteet. “It’s made up of mostly freshmen and all of them have been playing well. We’re excited about our future. Those kids have the potential to be really good before they leave here.”
Poteet singled out the play of Renie Morrow, Margaret Morrow, Kaylee Whittenburg, Taylor Parsons and Natalie Winters in the JV matches. She also saw some good things out of Sydney Souder and Abby Cornett.
Hannah Brooks, Parsons, Winters, Cornett, Souder, Shelby Lunceford, Emily Garr, Chloe Arnett, and Alexis Headley were singled out for their play while helping the freshmen team go undefeated.
“The freshman team is a close knit bunch,” said Poteet. “They play hard and they play together. They are good athletes and all of them believe they can win. I love to see that as a coach from my players.”