Column: Panthers look like class of county volleyball
By Stephen Dawkins
Two thousand nine is shaping up to be an interesting year in local high school volleyball.
Storylines abound. Long dominated by Isabella or Jemison, whoever happened to have the better team that particular season, a third county team appears poised to threaten the traditional hierarchy, and it’s not the team one might think.
Chilton County High, the county’s largest school, is still a year or two away from being a legitimate championship contender. Because the Tigers have no seniors on the roster, though, they have time to develop.
Most of the stalwarts off last year’s team graduated, leaving several new faces in starting spots. With some time to gain size, strength and experience, though, the Tigers will be good team. In fact, their progress could remind local fans of the strides made by another county team, Thorsby.
The Rebels, in fact, are the team that could loosen the stranglehold Isabella and Jemison have had on the annual county tournament. Now in the fourth year of coach Ginger Williams’ tenure, Thorsby is seeing the results of all the hard work it has put in. The squad already has six wins this year, one shy of its win total from 2008.
Don’t think the Mustangs and the Panthers have slipped, though. Isabella lost most of the starters off last year’s team, but coach Glen Graham is still high on his team’s potential. The Mustangs haven’t played up to that potential yet, but, like Graham has pointed out, it’s better for a team to be at its best at the end of October than at the end of August.
If Jemison takes that same approach, the Panthers will be scary good come playoff time. Jemison was an average team only one year ago and this year is composed mostly of the same players. Goes to show what an offseason with coach Leighsa Robinson can do. The Panthers have won 10 straight matches, and who knows how much more the team will improve with more game experience.
So far, at least, it appears the road to the county championship will go through Jemison.
– Dawkins is the sports editor for The North Chilton Advertiser.