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Isabella holds volleyball camp

The Isabella volleyball team should be working like a well-oiled machine by the first season game Aug. 20.

After losing eight seniors to graduation, the varsity team in 2009 will consist of three seniors, five juniors and two sophomores — among them three returning players.

This year, the defending county champs will be looking to extend their 11-year reign as area champions. They also hope to recapture a spot at the Elite Eight in Pelham, a place they haven’t been in two years.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Isabella hosted its on-site volleyball camp conducted by Jacksonville State University. It was the fifth year for the camp and the second for JSU.

“We thought their philosophy of teaching volleyball and ours matched up real well,” Isabella coach Glen Graham said. “It’s an in-state school, and we think we have some players that could play at that level.”

Not only does the camp allow players to practice their fundamentals and bond as a team, but it also gives them exposure, Graham said.

The timing of the camp is deliberate because it lets the team get into the proper mindset for the upcoming season.

“It pulls us together as a team so we know what everyone else is doing,” said returning senior Kimi Jones, who plays libero (defensive specialist). “I feel very confident in our team this year.”

Jones and 24 other players participated in the two-day camp. This included varsity, junior varsity and junior high.

“The best thing about this camp is how well we’re able to translate what we learn here into play,” said Isabella junior varsity coach Lee Windham.

JSU head volleyball coach Rick Nold, along with the JSU first assistant coach and two players, conducted the camp.

Nold said the discipline instilled in the players by the Isabella coaching staff was visible every day the team came out to practice.

“Everyone who comes and works this camp really enjoys it because this is one of the hardest working groups we’ve seen,” he said. “That makes it a good environment to do a camp.”

The Mustangs will kick off the season Aug. 20 at home versus Chilton County High School and LAMP of Montgomery.

It will be the 12th consecutive year for the returning program and Graham’s 13th year of coaching at Isabella.

“Our girls have worked hard,” Graham said. “As long as these kids continue to be dedicated and work hard, they will continue the tradition of good volleyball at Isabella.”