August 18, 2010 9:59:00 AM
A year ago, South Lamar High School volleyball coach Karen Holsonback felt fortunate that her team didn''t lose a match to rival Lamar County.
Holsonback''s team will attempt to continue its success against its rival Thursday when South Lamar hosts Lamar County in the first match of the season for both teams.
"It''s always a big game with Vernon (Lamar County) because they''re always so good," Holsonback said. "Historically, Vernon has always had a strong volleyball team. Until the last couple of years, they usually dominated the competition as far as wins versus losses. But South Lamar has really improved in volleyball the last two or three years. It''s just a good, solid matchup. Our teams are uusally evenly matched now. It''s exciting to see who''s going to pull out the win now."
South Lamar and Lamar County are scheduled to play junior high, junior varsity and varsity matches with the action beginning at 4 p.m. in Millport, Ala.
The fact that the rivals are meeting in the first match of the season has added anticipation to the start of the campaign.
"It''s great because the girls are already excited and ready to play gsmes," Holsonback said. "It''s a big, exciting game and everybody wants to win for county bragging rights."
Lamar County coach Teralee Brown says her players are looking forward to the matchup as well.
"They''ve been talking about it for a couple of weeks now," Brown said. "Last year we didn''t play a rival right at the beginning like this so this kind of makes it more exciting for them."
South Lamar returns three starters from last year''s team that hosted a regional and finished 23-5, while Lamar County returns four starters.
South Lamar''s team consists of seniors Taylor Maddox, Dallas Pollard and Erica Trammel, juniors Katlyn Bryant and Kendra Wilson, and sophomores Lauren Crimm, Karoline Holsonback and Kelsey Maddox.
"We''ve got a new team this year," Holsonback said. "I''ve got a lot of new girls. I graduated three starting seniors. You only play six in volleyball and three of them graduated. We''ve got new girls starting. As soon as they learn to play together we''ll be doing good. They''re good skill wise, but they''ve got to learn to play together.
"I''ve got a good-attitude bunch of girls. I don''t have a bad attitude on the team. They''re all exc ited and wanting to play. They''ve got to have time together on the floor in a game situation to make it work."
Lamar County''s returning starters are Torri Allen, Samantha Irvin, Kelsey Myles and Jessie Smith.
Senior Nicole Duke, who didn''t play last year, is expected to move into the starting lineup this season. Summer Robertson has moved up from the junior varsity and is expected to help.
"They seem to be a lot closer this year, working as a team," Brown said "They are young, but they seem to work together well compared to what I''ve seen before. They seem more excited this year."
South Lamar and Lamar County won''t be the only teams playing for county bragging rights this season. Sulligent will have a team for the first time this season and will be coached by Athena Hubbert, the wife of Sulligent girls basketball coach and softball coach Ronnie Hubbert.