Lady Dawgs continue to build foundation of volleyball program
Published 9:06 am Tuesday, July 26, 2022
The Pike County Lady Bulldogs volleyball team has been hard at work this summer and are looking to close out the summer with a bang this week.
Pike County volleyball will head to Goshen on Thursday for a “play date” alongside Goshen and Charles Henderson High Schools before attending a volleyball team camp at LBW Community College in Andalusia this weekend.
“Summer workouts have been great,” Pike County coach Erica Shepherd said. “It’s taken some adjusting because volleyball is a program that doesn’t receive a lot of attention here, but we’re trying to change that. We’ve had a couple of ‘play dates’ and we will end this week with another one and a camp in Andalusia. They’ve been energetic, excited, working on skills and eager to learn, so that we can grow that win column this season.”
Shepherd is in her second year at that helm with Pike County. Shepherd grew up in Goshen and was a basketball and volleyball player at Goshen High School before attending college. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree and MBA in business but after a few years in the business world she found her calling elsewhere.
“I was burned out in Corporate America and wanted to give back,” Shepherd recalled. “Teaching is where that was for me. The first week in the school system I was like, ‘Yeah, this is where God wanted me to be.’
“I fell in love with teaching and I felt like I could reach my kinds inside the classroom but I wanted to be able to touch them more somewhere outside of the classroom. Once I finished (grad school) I had some more free time and volleyball was there. I love volleyball but being able to reach out to these girls and serve them more than just as a teacher is the special thing for me.”
Pike County is coming off two wins last season, in Shepherd’s first year as Pike County coach, but returns a number of starters, including seniors Mikalah Griffin, Urriya Berry, Amity White and Takeya Smith.
“They are my seniors and both on and off the court, they have great leadership,” Shepherd emphasized. “I push academics, they have to come first, and that’s what I love about my girls. I don’t really have to worry about them when it comes to that.”
While Shepherd said she and the Lady Dawgs want to improve the wins this season, it’s not all about the wins and losses for Pike County.
“My goal is growth. We’re not just focused on winning or losing but I want us to grow as far as bonding as team,” said Shepherd. “I want us to grow in leadership and I want us to grow fundamentally. We’re not as focused on wins or losses but we want to build on from what we did the previous year.
“If we won two games last year, lets push to win four or five games this year. I’m not expecting a state championship. It’s a building process but if we build and continue to grow together we will eventually see those results we want.”
Pike County’s 2022 season launches on Aug. 18 with a home opener against Greenville and then the Lady Dawgs travel to area rival New Brockton on Aug. 23 before hosting Barbour County on Aug. 25. Pike County wraps up the first month of the season on the road at Elba on Aug. 30.
September jumps off with two straight area home games against Straughn on Sept. 1 and Opp on Sept. 6. Pike County returns to the road on Sept. 8 against Barbour County but is right back home for two more home games against area foe New Brockton on Sept. 13 and Elba on Sept. 19.
Pike County will wrap up September with four straight road games against area opponent Straughn on Sept. 20, Zion Chapel on Sept. 22, Greenville on Sept. 26 and the final regular season area matchup against Opp on Sept. 27. The regular season closes out with Senior Night against Zion Chapel on Oct. 4.