Seizing the opportunity

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 5, 2016

Opp Lady Bobcats’ head volleyball coach Bridget Brantley has been at the helm for three years, and finally has a group of seniors for the first time since taking over the team.

The Opp Lady Bobcats are rebuilt and ready to contend for the area title. Josh Dutton/Star-News

The Opp Lady Bobcats are rebuilt and ready to contend for the area title.
Josh Dutton/Star-News

“Having senior leadership is going to be huge for us this year,” Brantley said. “For the past two years, we have had to have young players out there, because we didn’t have seniors. This year we have that, and experience is something you just can’t teach.”

Since coming to Opp, Brantley said the teams have had some rough years, but that was because they were in the process of rebuilding.

“We have been in a rebuilding process for since I’ve been here,” Brantley said. “This year, we have really come a long way. These girls that I started with as sophomores are now seniors, and they have fought to improve since day one. They have worked so hard to build on the concepts that I installed in the first year. I knew we were rebuilding and would become competitive, but I never in a million years imagined that it would happen this quickly.”

Recently, the Lady Bobcats competed in the Enterprise Officials Clinic and completed the event with a 4-0 record.

“We played amazing in the Enterprise Officials Clinic,” Brantley said. “We beat Northview twice, Houston Academy and Goshen. Those a three good teams and I was so excited to see them play.”

Brantley said that the way the girls have grown over the past two years has amazed her.

“I can’t say enough about how much these girls have improved,” Brantley said. “It really has been amazing to watch them grow. They are even learning how to be excited when they make a good play. That wasn’t something I expected to have to teach, but they just weren’t use to being good. They are there now and it’s very exciting for me to see them excitement that they have now.”

Brantley said that there are several keys that the Lady Bobcats’ success will hinge on.

“We have will have to stay healthy and motivated,” Brantley said. “We have a lot of seniors and I’ve got to make sure that I keep them motivated. They know exactly what to do to be successful, but I just have to keep the motivated.”

After relying on defense to keep them in games last year, Brantley said that this year’s strength would be their hitting.

“Believe it or not, hitting is going to be our strong suit this year,” Brantley said. “We have been a small time that didn’t know really how to hit for power, but now these girls are really hitters. Hitters make volleyball fun and exciting to watch. We are just hoping that we can give them fans here some exciting volleyball to watch.”

Even with all the improvements, Brantley said the Lady Bobcats can’t become complacent with where they are at.

“We still have plenty of work to do,” Brantley said. “The work to improve is never finished. Passing and defense are things that we really have to focus on the next few weeks. We have to continue to improve our passes to set up shots for us. We also have to become more aggressive and get excited when they make a kill. All in all, though, I’m extremely excited to get this season started and see how we will compete.”

This season, the Lady Bobcats move away from T.R. Miller’s area, and into an area with Geneva, Straughn and Slocomb.

“Not having to travel to Brewton anymore is a good thing for sure,” Brantley said of the new area. “We still have some tough teams in the area, but our goal this season is win the area. If we can get to that point, then we will worry about winning the region.”

Opp’s first game on the schedule is August 25 against Andalusia, but Brantley said that there was a strong possibility that the game would be moved to a different date.