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IHS volleyball gets help from Jacksonville State

Supportive screams and cheers filled the Isabella High School gymnasium Wednesday afternoon, as volleyball camp concluded with a spirited round of scrimmages among junior high, junior varsity and varsity players.

In its sixth year, the camp is mandatory for all three teams and is designed to thoroughly teach fundamentals of the game as well as give the girls a chance to learn from the next level.

For the third straight year, coaches and players from Jacksonville State University’s accomplished volleyball program assisted IHS head coach Glen Graham with the camp. Graham was more than pleased with the effort given by his own players who boasted a unique enthusiasm for the sport and each other on the court.

“It’s been a really good camp,” Graham said. “This is a team-building exercise. We’ve got high expectations for this year after making the elite eight last year with only three seniors.”

The girls spent long hours in the gym each day practicing and developing their skills through repetitive and exhaustive drills before they ever got to play games. But when they finally split six players per side, they filled the room with fortitude and vigor.

“I tell the girls that practice is building a cake, and the games are the icing,” Graham said. “We’ve spent a lot of time in the gym. The camp is always great for our girls to get the perspective they need from a college coach and college players.”

JSU head volleyball coach Rick Nold and three of his players assisted daily with the camp, providing pointers on fundamentals and psychological aspects of the game.

As the IHS players gathered to sit on the floor, Nold encouraged them to continue to improve and reassured them that he and JSU have a vested interest in their progression. He said they often check the status of the team via Internet or newspapers and hope to help girls pursue the sport at the collegiate level.

“We don’t just do this as a camp,” he told the players as they sat on the hardwood floor after another long day of scrimmaging. “We care about you getting better.”

Reemphasizing the theme of the camp, Nold was impressed with the girls’ relentless enthusiasm for the game. Literally after every single point, each side, no matter who won, rushed to form a huddle and cheered each other on to the next moment.

“We love this camp,” he said. “They are so energetic.”

This marks the last volleyball camp Nold and his players work before they begin preparing for their own season this fall.

Graham was especially pleased that Nold and his players could make the trip again, given the similarities in their approaches.

“I think hearing the same things I’ve been telling them from another person like coach Nold definitely helps,” he said. “Our philosophies match very well.”

Before Nold and his players left town, Graham and the Lady Mustangs presented them with full baskets of ripe Bounty peaches and IHS volleyball T-shirts to thank them for their time and assistance.