Volleyball team poised for title run
- Categorized in: Athletics News
Two seasons have passed since Head Volleyball Coach Pam Phillips took over at Stillman College. Her team now is full of experienced players who are anxious to get the 2010 campaign under way. The team has been through an initial week of tough two-a-days and now is in the final days of preseason practice before Opening their season this Friday. The Lady Tigers host Judson College in a 5:00 PM exhibition match at Birthright Auditorium August 27,2010.
"We had a challenging first week of two-a-days. The girls came in excited to be back together and their excitement was evident in their work ethic. By the end of the week, however, we were sore and exhausted. I gave the team two days off (Saturday & Sunday) to rest and recharge. My only demand was that they hit the ice baths as prescribed by Coach Kim (VB team trainer)," stated Phillips. "Monday was the start of our regular practice sessions. We hit the court at 4:45 AM and go hard until 7:00-7:15 AM each morning. I was concerned about the early morning practices. It takes much discipline as well as dedication to your team to crawl out of bed at 4:15 and start practice at 4:45 AM. It would have been easy to complain early and often, but much to my surprise, I have yet to hear a single negative word. The kids are up and getting after it that early each morning. I think it speaks volumes about their excitement about this season as well as volumes about their character."
Phillips' squad returns all starters except two-time SIAC All-Academic Team right-side hitter, Jasmine Leatherwood, who graduated with honors in Biology in May. "Jas was a four-year starter at RS for this program. She was a tremendous blocker who will be missed." Phillips has two sophomores battling to fill the vacancy left by Leatherwood. "Ashley D. (Jackson from Lee High in Huntsville) is a natural for RS as a left-handed hitter. She is really working her tail off to win this position. Her work ethic has improved tremendously since her freshman year and is evident in her entire game." Ashley has some keen competition from JUCO transfer, 6' RS Terri Sharp from Wallace-Hanceville. "Terri didn't play last season, but played right out of Hayden HS for Wallace-Hanceville during her freshman year. She has been working really hard and has sharpened her skills tremendously in a week and a half. Terri is pushing for that spot just as Jackson is. The competition is good for both of them. It will be fun to see how this pans out."
The returning starters for Phillips include two members of the 2010 SIAC Preseason VB All-Conference Team in Jamila McKinnis and Anjelica Nixon. McKinnis, a junior setter and outside hitter from Mobile, was the 2009 SIAC Player of the Year. Nixon is a senior outside hitter from Hillcrest HS in Tuscaloosa. Nixon, McKinnis and Kiaundra Spann (senior Libero from Sipsey, AL) serve as team captains this season. "Our three captains are special people. They possess amazing volleyball skills and tremendous leadership skills," Phillips remarked. "Anjelica and Jamila really provide some outstanding fire power for our offense. They are smart volleyball players with tremendous athletic skills. They take our offense to the next level.
The backcourt defense for the Lady Tigers should be stronger than ever. Senior Kiandra Spann will lead the backcourt defensive efforts as the libero. Joining Spann will be junior defensive specialist Christine Mallory (of Shelby County HS in Columbiana). "This will be the third year for Kiaundra and Christine to work their magic together in our backcourt. Rounding out the Lady Tiger’s roster are defensive specialists Sheba Wariso (junior from Sacramento, CA) and Santanna Harrold (sophomore from Atlanta, GA), outside hitter Janay "Nikki" Hudson of Moultrie, GA and 6'1" middle blocker Ashley L. Jackson (senior from Oakland, CA).
" Defense will be the key to our success this year. Defense will be the thing that gets us over the runner-up hump. We can serve, hit and block with the best out there, but we have got to play high quality defense to climb all the way to the top,” remarked Phillips. Since Phillips came on board in '08, the Tigers have finished second in the SIAC West. "Second was great that first season, but it was certainly not what we hoped for last season. An extremely tough 2009 non-conference schedule required us to improve our brand of volleyball to survive. We accomplished that. This year, we will not be content with survival. We have a challenging non-conference schedule again this season, as we will continue to have as long as I am in charge. We intend to compete and win throughout this campaign. We are not going to be satisfied with second in the (SIAC) West this year. We left the tournament last season with broken spirits and heavy hearts. We were absolutely devastated. We will never forget that devastation, nor do we intend to experience it as a team again. Our motto is NO EXCUSES. With each opportunity to step on the court, we will give our all to one another in order to perform at the highest level possible, no matter the time, no matter the situation, NO EXCUSES."
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