Back in the saddle

Published 9:57 pm Friday, August 8, 2008

Many volleyball coaches would kill for a 20-win season that included an area championship.

Isabella’s Glen Graham, instead, hopes that kind of season serves as a reminder of what can happen to a team when all its parts don’t pull in the same direction. Graham isn’t being greedy; he just knows his Mustangs are talented enough to accomplish much more.

Aug. 21: vs. Horseshoe Bend, Chilton Co. (at Isabella)

Aug. 25: vs. Thorsby, Billingsley (at Isabella)

Sept. 2: vs. Chilton Co., Selma (at Chilton Co.)

Sept. 4: at Marbury

Sept. 6: at Horseshoe Bend tournament

Sept. 8: at Jemison

Sept. 11: vs. Montevallo, Chelsea (at Montevallo)

Sept. 13: vs. Isabella Invitational (vs. Marbury, Wetumpka, LAMP)

Sept. 15: vs. Parkway Christian

Sept. 16: vs. Shelby Co.

Sept. 18: at Horseshoe Bend

Sept. 20: at Donoho tournament

Sept. 22: vs. Thorsby, Montevallo (at Thorsby)

Sept. 25: vs. LAMP, St. Jude (at LAMP)

Sept. 29: vs. Jemison

Oct. 2: at Parkway Christian

Oct. 6: at Billingsley

Oct. 7: vs. Shades Mtn., St. Clair Co. (at Shades Mtn.)

Oct. 11: County tournament (at Jemison)

Oct. 13: Area tournament

“It’s going to come down to chemistry and heart this year,” Graham said. “We have to play for each other.”

And Graham said there wasn’t enough of that last year. Sure, there were plenty of wins, but the Mustangs came up short against Jemison in the county tournament and didn’t make it past the first round of the regional playoffs.

The only regular contributors lost to graduation were Kayla Brackin and Jessica Gore, who signed with Faulkner. Amber Wyatt is missing practice because of an injured knee but should be back in time for Isabella’s season opener on Aug. 21, when Horseshoe Bend and Chilton County High visit.

Graham said he hopes this group of girls follows the same path as the 2004 Mustangs. That team had its share of problems but bounced back the next year to go 38-9 and come within two points of the state semifinals. This year’s Mustangs got off to a good start with a team camp with coaches from Jacksonville State on July 29-30.

Isabella will have to go through a new area to achieve its goal of a state tournament appearance. The Mustangs this year have moved up to Class 2A and are grouped with St. Jude and county rival Thorsby.

The only new faces for Isabella this year will be Krista Shaw, a senior that hasn’t played before, and three players moved up from the junior varsity team: Courtney Brackin, Lacey Franks and Sarah Swanner.

Raelynn Liveoak will be the only new starter, on the left side, though there will be some position changes. Deanna Blozik will play in the middle while Wyatt’s status in uncertain, and Krysta Tyler will move from the left back to her old position on the right side. Blozik and Marlee Hayes will share the setting duties to begin the season.