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JCHS Volleyball continuing to build on foundation

The JCHS Volleyball Team continues to improve with greater progress expected in 2011.
Head Coach Eric Crabtree took over the program in 2010 and under his direction the Longhorns improved their win total from two in 2009 to six last year.
More than the win total, the Lady Longhorns played a lot harder and were a lot more competitive and Crabtree hopes to see his team take things up another notch this season.
“We've improved immensely from this time last year and that's all we're trying to do is get better every day,” Crabtree said. We're taking care of the things we control and do the things that we can do and do the best we can.”
There are 31 girls in the entire program with the varsity team having eight juniors.
“We have a lot of numbers, but that's a good thing because you battle a war of attrition in girls and I'm sure the senior class started out with about eight and now they're down to three. You have to make sure you have numbers. We've got a lot of girls who played a lot last year.
“Practices are now working on tactical stuff more than skill,” Crabtree said. “We're now working on strategy.”
With players like Shannon Main, Miranda Payne, Sarah Swift, Haley Miller and Linnea Yongue who are all pretty good hitters, JCHS has some pop this year.
“We've gotten a lot stronger, but consistency is what we're working on now,” Crabtree said. “When we hit the ball well we hit it well. We're just not consistent yet.”
The Longhorn coaching staff is going with a more experienced lineup with all the juniors and seniors playing varsity, the sophomores playing junior varsity and the freshmen playing on the freshmen team.
Crabtree says some changes may be made later on, but that this is the way he thinks is best for continuity between the team.
“We're doing that for continuity and that's not to say some girl couldn't play up at some point, but we're doing this for the continuity and the familiarity with the girls around them. We're trying to build a team concept and that's a good way to do it.”
The Lady Longhorns have three seniors in Miranda Payne, Shannon Main and Pricilla Herman who will be counted on for vital leadership.
“Shannon and Miranda are our two best hitters and if they play well, we'll play well,” Crabtree said. “Pricilla will probably come in like she did last year and give us a serve in a pressure situation. We'll rely on them pretty heavily.”
Ashleigh Weaver is also a very solid player and Ashley Arnold returns as setter. Sydney Easley and Lori Eller will provide depth and just this week, JCHS received the services of Mountain Empire Baptist transfer Katelynn Stout, whose family moved to Mountain City from Bristol.
JCHS also has a very solid group of sophomores that will be playing mainly junior varsity and even though the freshmen are adjusting to tougher competition in high school, they are showing tremendous promise as well.
“Both group have a good mix of hitters and middle and power and they have solid players,” Crabtree said. “We have to find some setters in the freshmen group. We've got four great setters in the program, we've got to make sure our freshmen become great setters.”
The Longhorns are still in a rebuilding process after the success of the mid2000s, but it's a process that Crabtree feels is heading in the direction with JCMS coaches Dottie Sue Phipps and Billie Blevins continuing to win championships and then the high school trying to build on those skills they learn in middle school with Mary Mays coaching the younger girls and Crabtree being the varsity coach.
“We're trying to build a solid foundation and once the foundation is solid we'll start doing harder things,” Crabtree said. “We want to continue going forward and never take a step backward.”