By Tim Chambers
Like the three Hebrew boys in the bible, several Longhorn volleyball players got thrown into the fire last season and head coach Donna Poteet is hoping that it pays dividends. They recently took part in a team camp at the University of Kentucky and made an impressive showing.
A total of 16 players made the trip with eight players each making up the varsity and junior varsity squads.
Poteet was very upbeat after watching her squad perform.
“Every varsity player has definitely improved since last season,” said Poteet. “They were a little hesitant at first, but we gained confidence in the early stages of the camp. They are starting to jell as a group and playing well together. The junior varsity has some talented players, but we’re still in the early stages of putting that team together. But I’m very pleased with how they all performed.”
Seniors Eden Fenner, Faith Poteet, Kaitlyn Leonard; juniors Brittany Brooks, Courtney Brooks, Kam Sluder, Brittney Cox; and sophomore Margaret Morrow made up the varsity squad.
Sophomores Haley Whittenburg and Renie Morrow joined freshmen Natalie Winters, Taylor Parsons, Abby Cornett, Sidney Souder, Emily Garr and Shelby Lunceford on the junior varsity team.
Poteet touched on a few things that stood out the most.
“The girls are really picking up the intensity level,” added Poteet. Their skills are getting sharper and they’re playing with confidence and not dwelling on mistakes made. They pick one another up when that happens. We weren’t able to do that last year. Each player is pulling for one another.”
The competition field was loaded according to Poteet.
“Delta High and Goodpasture from Nashville were two state championship teams down there that played well both days. It’s pretty intimidating when you look across the net and see three girls around 6’2. But we played .500 ball and I’m very pleased with that. I think it helped us playing those types of teams.”
The UK facilities were phenomenal according to Poteet.
“Our kids were in awe of Rupp Arena on the outside and all of the indoor practice facilities. They were really impressed with three of the basketball players that they saw. They got to see almost all of Kentucky’s men and women’s volleyball players. The size of some of them was amazing.”
Poteet singled out the play of Fenner, Brooks and Poteet. She also likes what she sees in Leonard and others.
The team will take part in two more play days, August 6 at Cherokee High School and August 13 at Carson Newman College.
They play at Sullivan East in the jamboree on August 11. Their first game will be at home on August 16 against Happy Valley. This will be the first time the Warriors have fielded a volleyball team.
“The season will be here before you know it,” added Poteet. “Our goal is to get better with each practice and play day. We had a great time at Kentucky, but there was really no downtime. We enjoyed eating meals together, but our main focus was on volleyball and getting better. I felt like we did that for the most part.”
NOTE: Ashley Holt, a newly hired teacher at Johnson County will be the volleyball assistant. Leonard was to meet with her on Monday and introduce her to the team.