Opp’s gonna be new, young this fall

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

0813 spt-Mary Beth Baker

Opp’s Mary Beth Baker runs through a drill Tuesday afternoon. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Opp will be fielding a “new” volleyball squad as the season kicks off for the Lady Bobcats in around two weeks.

Lady Bobcats assistant coach Erica Gholson, who spoke for OHS head coach Bridgett Brantley, said the girls have potential.

“They’re very young,” Gholson said. “Several of them have never played before, but we see that as a good thing because we’re starting with a clean slate, and we can build fundamentals first. We’re not having to break bad habits or anything. We’ve got a few who have played before, but overall on varsity and junior varsity, we’re very young.”

Opp’s Ritaya Peacock is the only senior because former teammate Saquaya Lane transferred to Brantley.

This season, the Lady Bobcats moved over to Class 3A, Area 2 with Hillcrest-Evergreen and T.R. Miller.

Last year, OHS advanced to the South Super Regional in Montgomery, but couldn’t get that state tournament berth.

Gholson said the main challenge with coaching such a young team is making sure the girls don’t fold under the pressure.

“I think with all sports in general — and I see it with girls as well — that athletics is a mental game,” she said. “So, when they make a couple mistakes they just lay down. It’s really hard for them, especially as young as they are, to come back from their mistakes.”

Gholson said they have been working on building confidence and mental toughness.

“We’ve got the ability level — they’re getting better at such a rapid pace from where we started at the beginning of the summer,” she said. “They’re just improving by leaps and bounds every day.”

Opp’s first match is on Thurs., Aug. 28, against Straughn at home.

“We’re just really looking forward to the season,” Gholson said. “As I said, they’re getting better all of the time. The more that they play with each other, the more they feel that coherence and teamwork. We’re looking forward to reaping the benefits of that.”