BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Last volleyball season was the most successful in recent history for the Lady Rams.
This summer the squad spent time striving for improvement and preparing for the upcoming fall schedule. The Lady Rams have been busy throughout the summer months, according to coach Angie Higgins.
After the school year concluded in May, the group spent time honing their skills during open gyms while also lifting weights.
“We have had great summer attendance,” Higgins said. “The freshman attendance has been up from previous years, which is great. Also our returning players have been coming consistently which helps the freshman get a feel of how things go.”
The Lady Rams conducted a summer camp for grade schoolers. Players competed in a summer league at Salem and traveled to Carbondale for a tournament. Mt. Vernon also brought in Murray State coach Dongping Fang for a camp.
“Our goal is to get the girls playing the game and interacting with each other as much as possible,” Higgins said. “Also conditioning is a huge part during the summer.”
Higgins said she's taken a broad approach in the summer, working on all areas of the game.
“It's really just about getting touches on the volleyball and getting girls prepared for tryouts,” she said.
She added that she's seen improvement in all areas of her players' games from a season ago.
“We have had a lot of girls improve on their serving, blocking and hitting,” the coach said. “We are trying to get our passing skills up to par with everything else so it can all come together.”
The summer months have additional importance because the Lady Rams begin competition almost immediately.
“Once the season starts, we only have about a week and a half until our first game, so getting in shape before the season is important,” Higgins said.
Last season's squad set a benchmark of 16 wins for the incoming group of athletes. Higgins said the winning season has galvanized the program.
“The girls are very excited for this season,” Higgins said. “I think that they saw the improvement that we had last year, and they know that they can improve on it. It is very exciting for us as coaches because we have girls with a lot of talent. We want to help take them to the next level.”
Mt. Vernon finished last season 16-11 overall. The Lady Rams earned the No. 2 seed in the regional tournament before being knocked off in three games against rival Centralia after the two teams split during the regular season.