Lanett Volleyball season preview
Published 11:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2023
The Lanett volleyball team has been active this summer as they work to improve on their finish last season. Last season, Lanett finished second in the area tournament after the Panthers lost to Horseshoe Bend in three sets.
The Panthers will be going into the season with a good group of six seniors.
Head Coach Krisse Story has not yet made the final decision on who is going to start this season, but several players have stood out this summer.
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“We practiced all summer and [are] still making some decisions, but some of the people who have really stepped up during our summer workouts are… Tamia Spratling, Makiah White and I think another person who has kind of been a sleeper is Laila Lancaster,” Story said. “She’s done well.”
Lanett will open their season at home on August 24 against LaFayette. On Aug. 26, Lanett will host the Kawana Tucker Memorial Tournament.
This will be the first tournament that Lanett has ever hosted. The tournament is being held in the memory of Kawana Tucker, an assistant coach for Lanett, and she passed away just before the start of the season last year.
“Of course, it means a lot to me,” Story said. “Definitely means a lot to the girls.”
Lanett did a few other things to honor their assistant coach last season, but Story and the players felt the need to do more.
The tournament also gives Lanett the opportunity to get more exposure, and it gives them the chance to play on a Saturday. Last season, the area tournament was held on a Saturday. Story felt like the players struggled because they did not have any experience with Saturday matches.
Story and her players have several matchups circled on their schedule coming into the season. One of those matchups will be their rivalry game against Valley.
“Of course Valley, we always look forward to playing our neighbors,” Story said. “You know, it’s just a rivalry in all sports and volleyball is no different.”
Last season, Lanett beat Beulah for the first time in program history. That matchup will be important for Lanett again this season.
Horseshoe Bend won the area championship by beating Lanett last season. The Panthers will match up with Horseshoe Bend twice in the regular season, and they will be looking for revenge.
For the past several seasons, Lanett has finished in second place in the area tournament. Lanett has been working to get over that hump this season.
“We just worked hard this summer,” Story said. “We talked to the girls that … went through spring, and then we came back in this summer and just talked with the girls about what it’s going to take to overcome that hurdle.”
Going into last season Lanett’s goal was to win the area tournament. The Panthers will have that same goal this season, and they feel like last year was not their best showing.
“We fell short of that goal,” Story said. “Which for me personally, and I spoke to the girls about it, and they agree that we didn’t finish how we should have. We definitely should have finished better than we did and we didn’t. So, we just decided to revisit that goal, to just strive for winning an area championship.”
Story picked a leadership team that includes Makiah White, Jeniyah Glaze and Tamia Spratling.
Those three will be expected to step up as the leaders of the team. Through their work this summer, Story has seen some major improvements with her team.
“I would have to say our communication, footwork and there’s more of an eagerness,” Story said in reference to her team’s improvement. “I see more of an eagerness, especially from our younger girls.”
The team has worked out all summer, and they hosted a youth camp this summer as well. Story has seen improvement with some of her younger players. Zorianna Goodman has been a player that Story has noticed the improvement from.
“She specifically sticks out as one of those younger girls, she’s stepping into a leadership role,” Story said. “She’s not quite there yet, but she has been very about showing up. She’s been very conscious about encouraging her teammates. So, those are leadership skills I look for in my girls, and she’s been doing that…”
Story said that Goodman is constantly working to get better, and she often stays late to work on her game after practice.
The biggest asset for Lanett this year will be their size. Lanett’s height will stand out against most of the teams they face.
“Blocking, we always do well in that area,” Story said.
Laila Lancaster and Makia White are both post players for the basketball team. They add size for Story.