• 66°

Kirkpatrick enjoys first season

The Charles Henderson Lady Trojans volleyball season has come to a close after a loss to Briarwood Christian last week in four sets. The Trojans won the first set 25-21 before losing three straight by scores of 15-25, 7-25 and 11-25.

Briarwood Christian entered the region tournament as a number one seed after winning the Area 8 championship.

“We played against a really good team out of Birmingham,” Kirkpatrick said. “They were the number one seed in their area. They are a team that goes to the Elite 8 or has a chance to go the Elite 8 every year. We played pretty well against them. For the kids to have the experience of playing against teams that have kids that have been playing together for a long time is only going to do good things for our program.”

The Trojans made the trip to regionals a season ago, but Kirkpatrick said the chance for younger players to experience the atmosphere of the tournament can only help the team moving forward.

“Its extremely important,” Kirkpatrick said. “Briarwood Christian is a very solid team. A lot of those kids play club volleyball in the Birmingham area. It benefited us as a program and not just the young kids. We had some players go up and watch. Getting a chance to watch how an older, more experienced team kind of handles itself and not get flustered or rattled is worth it’s weight in gold.”

Head coach Sonny Kirkpatrick had a successful first year at the helm, leading the team to a 21-17 record.

“We had to start from the ground up,” Kirkpatrick said. “In middle school, we only had two returners on that team and it was a bigger group of seventh graders. They all get a lot of experience – the same with JV and the same with varsity. Everyone played points that were very valuable in our program moving forward.”

Kirkpatrick and the Trojans worked during the summer at implanting the new game plan heading into the season. Nearing the end of the season, Kirkpatrick felt like the players started playing at a high level and started to grasp the system.

“We were really starting to understand all the stuff we worked on in June and July,” Kirkpatrick said. “Next year, we don’t have to go back to the basics. We set up a culture of winning.”

Kirkpatrick will still continue to teach his system next year for those new to the team, but will be able to expand on the existing strategy with returning players.

“You’re always going to have to do that (teaching the system) at some point because of adding new players to the team,” Kirkpatrick said. “But a lot of returners already know what is expected of them. That is really important.”