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Veterans, rookie mixed well at EGHSPosted Wednesday, October 28, 2009, at 4:37 PM
Eastern Greene High School volleyball coach Gina Ingram knew that 2009 was going to be an interesting season.
For one, she was going to have to deal with a first -- a team with no seniors.
She also was going to have to deal with a influx of talented freshmen, including her daughter Scottie.
"We started in June with open gyms and some of these kids were probably a little worried about not having a senior and were questioning if we had what it took to get to somewhere in SWIAC (Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference) and to get here, I am sure they were doubting," she said. "Especially since we did not have a senior, somebody to look up to.
"Somebody to take initiative on the floor. I think they saw that -- how hard the freshmen were going to work. And the juniors stepped out on the court every day and showed the leadership that they had to show. It's there, but it's going to take some work. That's exactly what they did."
Juniors Rikki McCann, Whitney Richardson and Samantha Reed, along with sophomores Brittany Igel and Kierstin Southern, were the returning players from the 2008 squad that finished 14-17.
They were joined by freshmen Ingram, Casie Divine, Chelsey Bailey, Leanna Bailey and Brooke Butler.
"It is huge transition from middle school to high school, where you are not blocked a lot and it is a faster paced game. But Scottie, Casie, Brooke and Chelsea had all played club ball, which helped with the transition.
"It helped that we started out with Bloomington South. The freshmen learned this is high school. It also helped that Brittany, Sam, Rikki and Whitney did not cut them any slack. Right off the bat in open gym, Brittany blocked Scottie and Casie. She celebrated in their face and they didn't like it. It was like the juniors were saying, 'this is high school and you are not what you think and we are here to work.'"
She added that all of the girls are competitors and they have handled the transition well, which led to the Lady Thunderbirds first conference and sectional championship in 15 years.
They will take a 30-4 record into their regional match at 11 a.m. Saturday at home against Tri-West Hendricks.
"We're a young team, but we all worked very, very hard," said Richardson. "We just played really, really well together.
"I think it makes us step it up when you have lower classmen that are so much better than they have been in the past and I think it makes us juniors better and work harder because they are so good."
Reed said that the freshmen were focused when they started with open gyms almost five months ago.
"They came into practice ready to go," said Reed. "They have worked extremely hard with us.
"They helped us every step up the way. Some of them had played club volleyball, which I am sure you've heard. They just really stepped up our game."
Assistant coach Stacy Ivey, who was a member of the 1994 team that went 24-2 and won the SWIAC, said it was an easy transition between young and old players.
"There has not been any bickering," she said. "Usually when you got age difference, especially when you have teenage girls. I don't like her, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But they don't do that.
"We've not had that problem at all. They got along well and played well together. I am so happy for them."
Linton-Stockton coach Jill Fougerousse said she was proud of the Lady Miners performance at the sectional, including a five-game victory over South Knox and a loss in three to Eastern Greene in the title contest.
"They were determined and had more fire than at any other time this season, especially against South Knox," she said. "The girls really showed a lot of heart.
"We hung right with them (Eastern Greene) in the first set and I thought if we could have pulled out set one that we could have carried the momentum on into the next set. It just didn't turn out that way. Eastern just over powered us"
The Lady Miners ended up playing a varsity-only schedule the last month or so, because of lack of numbers.
"It was unfortunate that we were not able to complete our jv schedule. We started the year with 15 girls and ended up with 12," said Fougerousse. "If we would have started the season with 25 and lost three, it would have been a different story.
"I hated it for the girls and Jacqi (Ward, assistant coach). I respect the girls who stuck it out and came to practice and got better and better knowing that their playing time would be scarce. To me it showed that they were team players and knew they were important to the team regardless of playing time."
She said that losing seniors Sam Butt and Kelsey Andis will hurt, but she hopes that all 10 girls will return next fall, as well as a big bunch of incoming freshman who won this year's eighth grade SWIAC tournament."
Fougerousse also said they were inconsistent, largely because they were unable to put their projected starting line-up on the floor more than a handful of times because of injuries. They finished 18-15.
"With a healthy lineup all year long, we might have seen 20 wins. As a coach though, I felt like this was a successful year. I came in with a different coaching style and a vision of where I hope we can take the program," she said. "The girls improved and that was the goal. Hopefully the girls will continue to work on their skills in the off season, get on a club team and push to get better for the future. The teams having the most success have players who have been doing just that."
After the Eastern Greene-Tri-West regional match, Forest Park and Brownstown Central will meet in the second semifinal at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at EGHS.
The two winners will meet at 7 p.m. Saturday for the right to go to the Class 2A state semifinals Saturday, Nov. 7.
Tickets are $5 for each regional session or a season pass, good for both, costs $8. Tickets will be available at the door.
B.J. Hargis is sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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