Panthers reach new heights despite falling short of goals

Published 10:33 am Friday, October 27, 2023

The Lanett Panthers’ volleyball season ended on Wednesday with a 3-0 loss to Isabella in the super regional. Despite the loss, Lanett’s program reached new heights this season. 

“There were times where we looked like we were supposed to be there, it just wasn’t consistent,” Lanett coach Krisse Story said. 

Lanett’s main struggles this season came from the team’s passing on the back row. That struggle reared its head on Wednesday, but Story did see the team volley better than they have in the past, and there were major improvements. 

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Despite the loss, Lanett’s program reached new heights this season. The Panthers finished the regular season with a 15-1 record. 

“I’m extremely satisfied with how the season went with the exception of not being able to win the area tournament,” Story said. “I’m extremely excited about the growth. I saw each and every one of those girls grow this season.” 

Coming into the season, the goal for the Panthers was to win the area tournament and knock off Horseshoe Bend. The team did not accomplish that goal, but they did accomplish everything else they set out to do. 

Lanett finished with an overall record of 16-3, with two of the losses coming to Horseshoe Bend. Last season, the Panthers topped Beulah for the first time. This season the team topped Beulah in each of their two matches. Lanett also swept Valley and LaFayette this season. That level of local dominance is not something to be taken lightly. 

“That was a great morale booster,” Story said. “We’ve not had that”

Story saw her team battle in several matches this season. One of those was a five-set comeback win over Russell County on Senior Night. 

“I think that we’re learning how to finish,” Story said. “They didn’t give up, they continued to fight.” 

Several of Lanett’s players are transitioning to basketball season. The ones that just play volleyball are getting some rest before they begin to hit the gym and study film in preparation for the next season. 

The growth that Story saw this season is carrying over with the girls who are set to return next season, and it has improved the interest throughout the school. The team is going to be attending several camps over the course of the spring and summer to improve on the team’s weaknesses. 

“I think our weakness is our passing,” Story said. “I think if we can continue to grow in that area, then we’ll be fine.” 

Still, Story is not satisfied with this finish to the season. The ultimate goal for the team moving forward is to capture that elusive area championship. 

“Our team goal was to win the area tournament,” Story said. “Unfortunately, that did not happen. To win in 2A Area 6 is what’s most important to us.” 

Other than just winning the area tournament, Story has several other goals for the program. Overall, Story wants to see the sport grow in the school and in the community. 

“That’s our goal,” Story said. “We need more momentum. We have more girls interested than ever. Already sixth graders are asking when tryouts are.”