Mustangs more confident than ever

Published 7:46 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Practice makes perfect: Isabella sophomore hitter Landy Griffith, right, tries to get a ball past Katelyn Ramsey, center, and Hayden Compton while the Mustangs practiced Monday for their appearance in the Elite 8 state tournament Wednesday at the Pelham Civic Complex. The trip will be Isabella’s third consecutive to the event.

Isabella volleyball coach Glen Graham said there are no excuses this year for his Mustangs not performing well at the Elite 8 state volleyball tournament.

Not only could this squad be Graham’s most talented overall in his remarkably successful run as coach, but the Mustangs also have experience to go along with their skill.

Four players—Savannah Kissel, Allison Mims, Mallory Mitchell and Heather Posey—will have been a part of three consecutive IHS teams that competed in the state tournament, when they take the court at 8 a.m. Wednesday against Lexington at the Pelham Civic Complex.

Kissel and Mims were starters on all those teams, while Khadijah Craig and Landy Griffith are both returning starters from last year’s team.

“I think we’re the most confident that we have been going into it,” Graham said.

The coach is also not letting his players use the early start time as an excuse.

“I told the girls, ‘It’s 8 o’clock for everybody,’” Graham said. “[Lexington has] to play that early, too. It is what it is.”

Lexington, like Isabella, has much tradition.

“I think they’re going to be really similar to us,” Graham said. “They’re not real big—their biggest player is 5’10”. They’re going to be well-coached and disciplined.

“I think this match is going to come down to whoever can run their offense the best. Whoever free balls it the most is probably not going to win.”

IHS has specialized this season at running its offense because of superb passing by the back row. Mims, a senior, is perhaps the most significant cause. Her 458 digs are a single-season school record.

“I think we’re a lot more consistent than we have been, and I would describe this team as having a lot of heart,” Graham said. “They have learned how to play well together this year. I don’t see them panicking over anything that’s taken place this year.”

Serving is another team strength, Graham said. Kissel’s 141 aces ties a school record, and three other Mustangs have at least 89 aces on the year.

“I think we’re playing our best ball of the season right now,” Graham said.