Patriots working well together

September 26, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

LANCASTER - A few new players have had to learn the ropes. So has a new coach. Now, with the postseason approaching fast, they all say they've just about got the hang of it.

The Lincoln County volleyball team tested its readiness Thursday and found favorable results in a 25-19, 25-22 win at Garrard County.

"It's a really good win," Lincoln junior Kendra Garris said. "We've always been rivals with Garrard County, and we haven't played this good a team in a while."

Only one more week of the regular season remains, and Lincoln's first-year coach said she believes her team is much better prepared for the district tournament than it was just a few weeks ago.


"It's going pretty good," Lincoln coach Karen Rice said. "My veteran players have come together, and we're working really good together."

The Lady Patriots are also working well with Rice, the first-year coach who signed on to be an assistant this season before getting what was essentially a battlefield promotion.

"We're working and coming together," Garris said. "Coach Rice has really stepped up. She had to fill big shoes from (former) coach (Victor) Black. I'm proud of her."

Rice had no volleyball experience as either a coach or a player before this season.

"I've come a long way," she said. "I've gone to clinics and studied books and videos and on the Internet."

But in the early practices of the summer, the team's veteran players were serving as de facto assistant coaches, helping to instruct some of the younger players.

"That's exactly how it was," Garris said, noting that varsity players would sometimes direct drills with the junior varsity girls.

Lincoln usually plays three games

Lincoln (10-8) did one thing Thursday it hasn't done often this season by beating Garrard in two games in the best-of-three format for its fifth straight win and its seventh in eight matches.

"My girls like to play volleyball, so they usually go three games. I think this is the third time we've only gone two games," Rice said.

The Lady Patriots also gained some revenge in their only match this season with their neighbors to the north. Garrard beat them in three of four matches last season, including two matches to decide the district championship, and in a preseason scrimmage this year.

On Thursday, Lincoln jumped out to a 12-8 lead in the first game and held it through most of that game. It had to come from behind to win the second game after Garrard took an early 4-1 lead.

"We didn't have a good game," Garrard coach Dennis Custard said. "We didn't get the ball over at all."

This was the final home match of the season for Garrard (7-16), which has lost nine of its last 10 matches, but Custard said the Lady Lions still have time to improve before their district tournament.

"We've got three matches next week, so we've got some time," he said.

Lincoln has been tinkering with lineups and alignments for much of the season, and Garris said the results are starting to pay off.

"We've changed rotations, and we're subbing a lot," she said. "We kind of got started late, but we're there.

"We have an older team, and we should be experienced enough to do really well."

Mike Marsee can be reached at

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