By Beth Cox
Coach Michele Cooke is ready for a new year of volleyball along with her assistant Sarah Jennings. The Lady Longhorns are all about working hard and improving every day. Cooke sees potential in her team but understands this year they are competing in a more challenging conference explaining that with the redistricting, they will be facing new schools such as Bristol’s Tennessee High and Volunteer High School in Church Hill.
“With the merge of the Sullivan County schools, we won’t play Central, North, or South but now will go against schools we haven’t had to play before,” she
said, adding, “we will just build our team with each game.”
According to Cooke, the Lady Longhorns have a lot of talent.
“It is about getting it all together when it counts,” she said. “If the girls play in games like they do in practice, we have a good chance to win games.”
Luckily a couple of solid hitters and a consistent setter will help this young team compete with the newer opposing teams. Ryleigh Icenhour and Brookanna Hutchins are strong hitters at the net and do not shy away from reading the hitters and stopping potential kills from their opponents. Peyton Gentry is a court leader for her team as well as a team setter.
Kali Henry has that strong work ethic, consistently improving, leading her team by example, inspiring a team to do more than expected.Like any good coach, Cooke is looking at her team for now and in the future. She likes what she sees in her juniors and, quite frankly, her freshmen. She emphasized that this year’s junior team has a lot of talent but lacks experience, which she hopes they get with this year’s season.
The Junior Varsity team has also impressed Cooke and Assistant Coach Jennings. They have done well in games, and the coaches feel they have a tremendous amount of potential with their underclassmen. Cooke is hoping for a better ending to her season than last year.
“We played in the regular season, but COVID prevented us from playing in districts, so I hope we can finish the season this year.”