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FALL SPORTS PREVIEW: VOLLEYBALL

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Coach Staples: Lady Raiders ‘playing young’

By Dave Taylor

The Trimble County Lady Raiders will open the 2011 volleyball season in the friendly confines of the TCHS gymnasium tomorrow night. Trimble entertains Walton-Verona, one of the toughest opponents on the schedule, according to Head Coach Ruth Staples.

“Unfortunately, we’re in a district with Oldham County,” Staples said. “As opponents they’re class 5A and 6A schools and we’re a class single A school. Other than that probably our next toughest opponent is Walton-Verona.”

The Lady Raiders motor to Carrollton on Monday to meet the Lady Panthers of Carroll County and face Gallatin County at home on the following night.

“Carroll County is one of our biggest (opponents),” Staples said prior to a scrimmage with the Lady Panthers last week. “Last year we were able to win against them several times which we’ve never done before. All three of those opening games are with three of our toughest opponents and we are far from ready.”

Overall, the scrimmage wasn’t a bad dress rehearsal for the Trimble girls. The strong freshmen team defeated Carroll, the junior varsity lost and the varsity team fell by only two points.

“We won the first varsity game, they won the second, then they won the third, 25-23,” Staples said on Friday. “I think we played well. We were playing wounded and just ran out of gas. Sara Kuner is recovering from a torn ligament received the first day of practice, and Kelsey Courtney had been ill all week. So I was pleased with our performance overall! Our freshmen played really well, and JV made some mental mistakes that we can improve on.”

Kuner is the lone, four-year senior starter coming back from last year’s 14-12 team that fought to runner-up finishes in both the Class A Tournament and the Carroll County Invitational.

“I have three other seniors [Kristen Leatherbury, Kaitlyn O’Brath and Jayde Snelling] but they have not been four-year seniors,” Staples said. “We’re playing young this year.”

Courtney and Hannah Roberts are the only juniors on the team. The varsity lineup also includes sophomores Paige Black, McKenna Ginn and Micah Hess, and freshman Kayla Baker.

“We lost Kasi Fogle and Reagan Black to graduation so we have two pair of shoes that are going to be hard to fill,” Staples said.

The coach is excited about the number of girls coming out for volleyball, including what she called a “very talented group” of freshmen.

“We started a middle school program about four or five years ago so I have a lot of experienced freshmen coming in which I’ve never had in the past,” Staples said. “This is definitely improving our program. I have 10 freshmen coming in this year. One is already going to be on the varsity team and I can foresee moving several of them up to the varsity level in the near future.”

The Lady Raiders first held practice in the gym on July 19th and had only two weeks of practice before the Carroll County scrimmage, according to the coach.

“The heat’s been horrible,” Staples said. “Having a non-air conditioned gym it’s been tough on the girls. It’s been tough on all of us but we’ve been able to practice, we’ve not had to cancel. We shortened the practices. I’m hoping this team can set their determination to winning some tournaments after being runner-up in two tournaments last year.”