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Lady Tigers focus on more tempo

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
When T.R. Miller High School started volleyball in 2002, it was a learning experience for both the players and coach Sharon Peacock. Last year Peacock shifted some of her focus from learning the Xs and Os to using them in games.
Now in year three, a big part of the Lady Tigers' work is how fast they can do things.
"Each year we've tried to put a little more strategy into our game plan. This year we've spent a lot of time working on tempo. I think our experienced players have reached the point where they can start to attempt some tempo plays, which they couldn't do yet last year," Peacock said.
Peacock says there is a growing interest in the program.
"For some of our girls, this is now their third year in the program. On the other hand, we've actually got more first-year players out this season than we've ever had. Because of that, learning the fundamentals is still a big part of our work," Peacock said. "There are several things that have contributed to the growing interest. I attribute some of that through the YMCA programs, the program at Brewton Middle School, our games getting more publicty in this area and more people are simply coming out to watch the games."
Members of the Lady Tigers participated in three camps this summer as part of their offseason work.
"Our girls took part in the two local camps at the YMCA and at Jefferson Davis Community College plus we had our own team camp. I was pleased by the response of our players to those camps. We were at or near 100 percent participation," Peacock said.
T.R. Miller, which finished 6-19 last season, also had various weight room and conditioning drills.
"We made a lot of progress in the weight room. Right now Terri Lynne Peacock, Rachel Morgan and Catherine Layton are probably our strongest players in terms of the amounts they can lift. Our incoming freshmen made huge strides. Most of them had never been on a weightlifting program before," Peacock said. "We did a lot of other conditioning exercises such as box jumping, skipping rope, tricep pullovers to name a few. For the most part, we did pretty much everything we had scheduled to do this summer."
As far as the game itself is concerned, Peacock said there are some key areas where her team has tried to improve.
"You have to be able to pass and serve the ball. If you can't pass and serve, you'll never have any offense," Peacock said. "Another area where we've tried to get better is our mental toughness. We lost a lot of close matches last season, including one to Sumter County at the Area Tournament where
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we had the lead late in the match and let it slip away. A lot of mental toughness can only be taught and learned from within an individual, but we've tried to emphasize the importance of leadership by our seniors. Our seniors have already done some of that with some of the team goals they have laid out for the other players this season."
One item the Lady Tigers have had to overcome during both the summer and the early days of practice has been heat.
"The gym is really hot and it holds in the heat. There just isn't much air flow. Even Monday when it wasn't so hot, it was still extremely humid. We've tried to deal with the heat by giving the girls frequent water breaks. It's important they consume a lot of fluids when it's hot like this," Peacock said. "At the same time, heat is something they might as well get used to because the gyms are going to be hot when the season starts."
T.R. Miller is slated to begin its season August 30 with a home doubleheader at 4 p.m. against Central (Fla.). Its first road date is the next day, August 31, with a varsity/junior match at Thomasville.