Jumping into the season
Last October, the Charles Henderson varsity volleyball team’s season came to a crushing end thanks to a loss against Rehobeth in the Area tournament.
It was a loss the returning players and coaches have still yet to let go.
“There were a lot of sad hearted girls on that bus ride back,” head coach Jennifer Sikes said.
“It was something that was tough to forget about. Last year should have been our year.”
Now, the Trojans find themselves back on the court preparing for a new season – but propelled by its last loss.
“I can see a difference from how the girls were last season to this season,” Sikes said.
“They are more mature, they communicate better and they are dedicated to being successful. They come to practice early and they stay late. There is no negativity surrounding this group.”
Those characteristics are ones that separate this season’s team from last year’s team, according to the coach, and ones that could help send the team further into the postseason.
Last season, the CHHS finished with an overall record of 17-9, in what Sikes called her best season with the program since she became the head coach almost a decade ago.
There were just two seniors on that squad, Taylor Smartt and Nick Jones.
However, this season, there are five returning starters, Alison LeCroy, Samantha Kitchens, Lauren DeBruyme, Courtney Wood and Cinnamon Wilson.
With a winning mentality instilled in the team and so many players returning, Sikes said her job has been easier while expectations have never been higher.
“Realistically, this is a team that could make it to state.
“In the past, something has always happened that prevented us from getting out of the area (tournament) or region (tournament). We just couldn’t put everything together.
“But I really feel like this group should not have a problem getting out of the area or the region, if they play the way they are capable of playing,” the coach added.
While Sikes said she is happy with how well the team has come together to this point, there is still one area that she would like to see some improvement in.
“Serving is not where it needs to be just yet,” the coach said.
“We have been focusing on and focusing on other stuff but we will get a lot of serving drills in before the first game.”
The varsity squad is not the only CHHS volleyball team that has Sikes excited for the upcoming weeks, as the JV team has been making waves as well.
“This is going to be an exciting team to watch,” Sikes said.
“This is a very athletic group that has been playing with one another for a long time.”
Members of the team include, Victoria Outlaw, Madison Mehaffey, Madison Carpenter, Olivia Hudson, Alli Ellis, Hannah Fountain and Becca Hartley.
“These are two teams (Varsity and JV) that really communicate well with each other,” Sikes said.
“They are both very competitive, but they make each other better. They celebrate with each other – they want to be as good as they can be.”
Both the teams will look to make good of their coach’s expectations next week, when CHHS will take on Ariton on the road on Aug. 19 in the season opener. The Trojans’ home openers will not come until a week after the season opener, as Carroll will be the first opponent in Wagner Hall on Aug. 26.