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Lady Longhorns rock Shoun Gym in season opening win

By Matt Hill

JCHS Volleyball is on its way back. Everybody in Shoun Gym on Monday night knew it.
The Lady Longhorns were dominant in their first home match and in their first match under new head coach Eric Crabtree as JCHS defeated the Holston Cavaliers 25-21, 25-18, 25-13 in a non-conference matchup.
JCHS served better and played with more passion than they had the previous year and it was a night that saw the rebirth of JCHS Volleyball.
The Lady Longhorns were able to get some solid play from all their players and were able to bring the crowd to its feet.
Proof of the resurgence came in the second game when Shannon Main scored several points in a row off some phenomenal serves.
The score was 17-8 in game two and the Lady Longhorns were on their way.
“I think we’re playing more as a team and we’ve worked on individual skills and we knew what each other was doing on the court,” Main said. “That made everybody do better.
“Coach Crabtree has us working all the time on our serving and that’s really made us a lot better and given us a lot of confidence.”
The Lady Longhorns were propelled to the win following game one when JCHS pulled out a tough 25-21 frame against a very scrappy Holston team.
Games two and three were all Lady Longhorns as they brought the crowd to its feet with great kills and a solid team effort.
“We’re going to come hard this year,” Main said. “We didn’t do well last year and we want to do well this year.
The play of the night was an outstanding dig that ended up being a point for JCHS by Sara Swift in the third game.
This effort was just one of many great plays by Swift and the Lady Longhorns on Monday night.
“The adrenaline got into me and I think it got into everyone,” Swift said.
Monday night’s performance has brought the excitement back to JCHS Volleyball and Swift feels this is going to be a good year for the Lady Longhorns.
“I think everybody is feeling like this is going to be a really good year for us.”
JCHS head coach Eric Crabtree couldn’t ask for a better first match of the season out of his girls.
“We got some confidence early and the light went on,” Crabtree said. Their body stature and look in their eye had changed. You have to have that success. We’ve played some scrimmages where things haven’t clicked. Tonight they clicked and they played a wonderful match and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The serving display the Lady Longhorns put forth also pleased Crabtree.
“If there’s one thing we do better than anything else, it’s serving,” he said. “If you get your serves in you put the pressure on the other team. They are free points for us. The girls have worked very hard and it showed. I haven’t worked hard, they’ve worked hard. Our serves, not only were they in, but they had something on them. They got a little tired in a couple of games, but overall they played great.”
Coach Crabtree had friends from both sides on Monday night as he is an alum of Holston and is still a very active in Damascus.
His children are in the school system in Damascus and he knows all the girls he coached against Monday night.
“It’s bittersweet,” Crabtree said. My kids go to Holston and I went to high school with most of these girls parents, I’ve been friends with them since I was a kid and I’ve known most of these girls since they were kids. They’re just a few years older than my son. I have a connection to them; I’ve coached them in basketball and some of their brothers in football and baseball. It is bittersweet because I love Damascus and there are wonderful people there and I love those girls, but when we get on the court all that goes to the side. You have to focus on getting the win.”
Crabtree also loves the girls he’s coaching now and the heart they are showing on the court.
“I would not trade my girls for anybody in the world,” Crabtree said. “I would not take another team on this planet. Those girls have done everything I’ve asked and have done it with a smile on their face. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”
The Lady Longhorns competed in the Three Rivers Conference Jamboree on Thursday and got more of an idea of what they’re going to have to do to be successful.
JCHS lost to Sullivan East 25-15, Sullivan North 25-13, Elizabethton 25-20 and Unicoi County 25-14.
There were some bright moments, including a strong start against defending champion East where the Lady Longhorns trailed only 14-13.
Another bright spot was the play of Lizzie Dugger, who is showing tremendous improvement.
Dugger came up with several big kills against Elizabethton.
The Lady Longhorns played solid, not just good enough to win.
“We’re trying hard to do the right things,” JCHS head coach Eric Crabtree said. “We’re still making mistakes and the light has not been turned on yet. There are times where we look very, very good, we just have to look good for a whole game. There are no gimmes in this conference, everybody I saw was very good.  We’ve just got to get better.”
Crabtree was very impressed with the game against Sullivan East.
“For most of the game I thought we played well,” Crabtree said. “There are a very good team. We always get to around 15 when it’s close and from 15 to 25 we fall apart.
JV Report
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