Camp helping Mercer players impress Colonels

June 16, 2004|JILL ERWIN

HARRODSBURG - The Mercer County volleyball team has the gym, and four Centre College players, all to themselves.

This is the first time Centre coach Stephanie Dragan has held a camp at Mercer, and all nine of the campers are Mercer players.

Those players, including three seniors, say having that time with college players and learning together will pay off in the upcoming season.

"It's nice that we're all learning the same techniques," senior Sarah Yates said. "We're learning new ways to set the ball and things like that. That means we won't have to spend as much time at the beginning of next year going over all that."


Centre seniors Leah Ballinger, Lisa Fryman and Danielle Norman joined sophomore Kate Bennett in providing instruction, and Norman said the Scotties just need to continue to work to improve.

"I have been highly impressed with their ability level," Norman said. "They have great athletic ability, and that's what you need to play volleyball. They just need knowledgeable coaches to help them improve their skills. They will learn true positions, and they have a lot of height, which helps."

Scotties only in their fourth season

But they don't have a lot of experience. The Scotties will open their fourth season with only three seniors. Two of them have played every year of the team's existence, while the third joined in her sophomore year.

That late-comer, Sarah Cecil, said she thinks Mercer will continue to improve as the players become involved at younger ages.

"Ellen (VanGilder) is coming up as a freshman, and it will really help the younger girls," Cecil said. "I came in one year late. Hopefully, because they're starting earlier than I did, this type of thing will help them in the future."

All three seniors said they think having the majority of the team together with such close instruction from the Centre players will benefit them.

"We are the main part of the team," senior Kelli Perkins said. "Having this camp, and all of us here, will give us a good perspective on next season."

"This will help us build into more of a team," Yates said. "We get to see what the college players do and how they do it, and we're such a small group it really helps."

Norman and the other players demonstrated all kinds of skills Tuesday, from blocking to defensive moves. Dragan said she could see the Mercer players' skills left something to be desired, but that their dedication didn't.

"You can tell they're still a pretty new program, but they want to get better," Dragan said. "Having nine girls come out in their first year having a camp and the first time they've ever really been to a camp proves their dedication."

"It's awesome," Perkins said. "We've never been to a camp like this. It's great to have a chance to learn from older girls like this who are so good."

Mercer players impressed by Centre players' skills

Perkins was seconded by Cecil on the skill of the Centre players, but Cecil took it one step further. She said their volleyball abilities were downright intimidating.

"It scares me," Cecil said. "When we played them yesterday, I was scared to death to take their first hit. It inspires us because we see how good it can be and hopefully we can reach that potential."

Cecil said the Scotties can increase their skills by attending camps, but that they won't truly improve or learn to win tough games without taking on tougher teams. Volleyball in the area is still relatively young, and Cecil said playing some teams from other parts of the state would help Mercer.

"These girls are seeing Lexington-area volleyball," Norman said. "If they went to Louisville, they'd be seeing teams that really hit the ball. That's what I think is important about this camp. It shows them true volleyball and the level they need to be at in order to compete with the good teams."

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