Learning to overcome mistakes… Jr. Lady Cyclone volleyball has chance to be a good team

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2019

When the T.A. Dugger Jr. Lady Cyclone volleyball team takes the court this season, there will be a new face at the helm of the program as Kendall Ivester takes over a program that she has high expectations for in her first season.
That’s with good reason as Ivester is coming from a Mary Hughes program that was very successful in her stint with the Sullivan County school.
“I actually was the assistant coach for Mary Hughes for the last three years and this is my first head coaching job,” Ivester said during the school’s media days.“Obviously, we all want to win the conference. I don’t think that the girls have ever made it to state so my goal for the first year is let’s do good in the conference, let’s get regional and let’s go to state.
“The last three years that I was an assistant coach at Mary Hughes we won state three years in a row,” Ivester continued. “I have high hopes for these girls and I know they can do it if they set their mind to it.
“I am just so excited to have this job and I can’t wait to see what this season holds for us.”
Ivester has a varsity team filled with eighth-graders who have played volleyball at some level and that experience is something that the new coach hopes to pay dividends as her squad gets into their regular-season schedule.
“Our varsity team is all eighth-graders. They are experienced and a couple of them played varsity last season from what they had told me. I think that if we play as a team and get the basic things that we need that we are going to be a good team,” said Ivester.
“These girls are so sweet. They work hard and don’t give up. We have a problem when we make a mistake as it seems hard for them to shake it off but we will get there.
“We definitely need to work as a team and if we do make a mistake, we need to shake it off and go to the next play because in volleyball if you can’t shake it off, you are probably going to lose the next point.”
Ivester also pointed to the serving game as being very important for her team’s success this season.
“Another key is serving,” stated Ivester. “We have to get our serves over the net because that’s what starts every play for us.
“Right now we are not strong in serving but we are going to keep working and I think that serving will actually be one of our strong points.”
There are a couple of key players that will have to have huge seasons for their team to experience success on the court.
“Bailey VanHuss played setter last year from what I understand and I have changed her around and now she is my Libro so she will be on the court at all times. She has to be vocal and talk to the girls and uplift,” commented Ivester.
“I also have Karie Merritt. She is one of my middle hitters and she has been working really hard. She almost has her timing down perfect for hitting the ball every time and making sure that it’s in.
“Those are two of my key players right now but I think that all six of the players on the court will be key for us because I believe in all of them.”
One thing that Ivester will have to catch up quickly on is the teams in the conference as the teams will be different than what she was familiar with at Mary Hughes.That is one of the reasons that she is pushing her team so hard to be ready.
“I know the competition is going to be tough and so that’s why we are working hard day in and day out in the gym. Hopefully, by the time the regular season starts, we will be ready,” Ivester stated.
With the continued success at Elizabethton High School in the sport of volleyball, Ivester was asked if it put added pressure to make sure that she is adequately preparing the team to advance to the high school level.
“Leslee (Bradley) comes to my practices,” said Ivester. “I want my girls to play the same way they will be playing when they will go to Coach Bradley.
“It puts a little bit of pressure on me but I know that if I get them ready to come up there, then I have done my job.”
The Jr. Lady Cyclones open their season playing at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School in the Attack at the Rock tournament on August 10th.

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