August 8, 2014 12:14:08 PM
CALEDONIA -- Kacy Lovett wants to focus on volleyball.
As she prepares for her final season at Caledonia High School, Lovett doesn't want to hear the word drama. She doesn't want to deal with anything that causes her or any of the Lady Confederates to lose their concentration on what it will take to make the team successful.
That's why Lovett is doing everything she can as a one of Caledonia High's six seniors this season to make sure the squad has a team-first mind-set.
"I feel we are bonding more as a team as far as our team chemistry and staying closer as a team," Lovett said. "I feel like last year there was some unnecessary drama, but we overcame that as the season went on. This year, we kind of mesh more."
Lovett said the team worked on its communication last season to help it overcome its issues. Still, there were plenty of ups and downs for a program that has been one of the most consistent in the area. Lovett said she and her teammates learned lessons on how to cope and to deal with drama to prevent it from happening again.
"I feel if there is any drama between anybody we have to learn to depend on each other and to talk to each other about things and take each other and talk it out and get over it ourselves," Lovett said.
Caledonia High coach Samantha Brooks enjoyed hearing Lovett talk about the "drama" the team faced last season. She talked several times last season about the Lady Confederates' attempts to work through their issues. She is eager to see how another group of experienced players goes about piecing together its individual talents into a cohesive unit.
"We did have problems last year fighting for leadership instead of playing together and playing for team and not playing for oneself," Brooks said. "We have talked about focusing on that this year. We have done some goal writing and we're going to hang our signs up and focus on our goals and, ultimately, try to make it to state."
Senior Maegen Stewart, who will take over as setter for Morgan Smith, feels the team has the pieces to have a strong season and get back to the playoffs. She said Thomas and Savannah Thomas are expected to be two of the team's top hitters, and she hopes she can take what she learned from Smith and keep the offense clicking.
"I think I did pretty good last year," Stewart said. "I want to improve on perfecting my sets for my hitters so they can get kills every time. It is all about practice and getting my sets consistent and learning what my hitters are comfortable with."
Lovett said having six seniors could help keep everyone in line and ensure someone is leading the way in a positive manner. Expected to be one of the team's primary hitters, Lovett hopes she can do her part to make her final prep season a success.
"We have had some shaky practices and we have had some of the best practices we have ever had," Lovett said. "I guess it can kind of go either way. We just have to keep the right mentality and stay active and stay strong and not have any drama and just mesh as a team.
"We have to learn how to control ourselves and our own drama, and if there is drama that doesn't have to do with volleyball or anyone else on the team, don't worry about it or talk about it on the court. I think we have to learn how to respect each other as a classmate, as a player, and treat each other like family."
Brooks said the ability to lead the team won't be based on the players' classes. She feels there is a nice blend of upperclassmen and underclassmen. She said the team has enough depth that it can have two squads in scrimmages to push everyone to stay focused and to push each other for playing time. Brooks hopes that those things help promote a team-first way of thinking that takes hold. She saw signs of that with strong participation in the team's summer workouts.
"We have set goals that are progressive," Brooks said. "We want to start by paying as a team, we want to win our district, we want to make state, and we want to win state.
"(Playing as a team) is the foundation. You have to have a good, strong foundation in order to do anything, and that is in life, too. You have got to be a team player."
Caledonia will play Pontotoc at 12:30 p.m. and Belmont at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Pontotoc High tournament. It will open the regular season Thursday against Heritage Academy at the Mississippi University for Women.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.