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Lady Tigers try to take next step

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
The way some people measure a team's improvement is by the number of games it wins.
From that standpoint, the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers volleyball team took a small step back last season. T.R. Miller won seven games in its initial season of competition in 2002 and six (6-19) last year.
Another measuring stick for a team is how well it competes. From that viewpoint, the Lady Tigers made some progress last season.
"Even though we won one less game last season, I thought we were a lot more competitive. We were in position to win a lot of our matches, but fell a little short," T.R. Miller coach Sharon Peacock.
Perhaps the match that sums up Peacock's viewpoint the best was T.R. Miller's last one of the season against Sumter County at the Area Tournament. T.R. Miller had an 11-8 lead in the decisive third set and was within four points of its first ever regional berth, but Sumter County rallied for a 15-12 victory
"If we want to take that next step forward this season, we've got to get more mentally tough in those situations. That aspect starts with our seniors. We need for them to step up and take charge and at least so far they are doing that," Peacock said.
The bad news for T.R. Miller is it lost a little bit of everything from last year's lineup. The good news is it has a little bit of everything back.
"We lost people in just about every position, but we also have people back in just about every position," Peacock said.
T.R. Miller's strength may be up front where it returns the bulk of its lineup. Erin Byrne, a 5-9 senior, was a starting middle hitter last year, while 5-9 sophomore Shandreka Foster saw quite a bit of time in that role last year as a freshman.
"Erin is hitting the ball better this season. She can also block. We don't have a lot of height, but Erin provides us with some. We're working with Erin on her consistency and aggressiveness at the net," Peacock said. "Shandreka showed us a lot of good flashes last season. She put in a great offseason. I'm looking for a lot better hitting from Shandreka this season. She has also developed into a good blocker."
On the outside, the Lady Tigers return 5-8 senior Courtney Krehbiel.
"Courtney is pretty strong and she has developed into a good passer. She is also probably one of our best competitors," Peacock said.
Depending on the situation, 5-5 junior Terri Lynne Peacock will play some on the outside in addition to her setting duties.
"Terri Lynne is very aggressive and gets to a lot of balls, but sometimes she gets too aggressive. We've worked with her a lot about playing under control and I think she has gotten better with that. She has pretty good strength and hits with power. We're trying to help her improve the timing of those hits," Peacock said.
Rebecca Scott, a 5-7 sophomore, and Megan Fountain, a 5-3 junior, may also see some time on the outside.
"Rebecca has made a lot of progress since last season and makes some nice hits," Peacock said. "Megan probably won't see a lot of back row time, but she gives us some quick sets up front. Megan is still learning the game, but she is coming along well."
When she is not up front, Terri Lynne Peacock along with 5-4 senior Rachel Morgan will handle a lot of the setting duties. Emily Layton, a 5-5 junior, and Vivian Muth, a 5-2 junior, will also probably see some time.
"Rachel has good hands and places the ball well. Emily is a newcomer who has come a long way in a short time. She hustles and her technique is good. Vivian is also a good hustler who passes the ball well. She has made a lot of development as a player," Pecock said.
Stacey Jackson, a 5-4 junior, returns as a back row/defensive specialist.
"Stacey probably won't play much up front, but she plays good defense in the back row and passes the ball well," Peacock said.
Two of the top goals for the Lady Tigers this season are achieving the program's first ever winning record as well as its first ever regional berth. The latter became a litte easier when Class 3A Area 1 was reduced from four to three teams with the removal of Sumter County. That leaves Clarke County, W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller left to battle for two regional berths.
See LADY TIGERS Page 7
"I think those are very realistic goals for us to try to obtain. We've got to overcome some things in order to make that possible. A couple of big keys for us are ball control and communication. Mental toughness is another key. How will we react if we lose a couple of close matches at the start of the season. Do we learn how to deal with them or do we say here we go again. Another concern for us is depth. There is a pretty big gap between out top unit and the next unit at this time," Peacock said.
T.R. Miller Lady Tigers
Volleyball Schedule
Aug. 30 Central (Fla.) Home 4 p.m. (Varsity Doubles)
Aug. 31 Thomasville Away 5 p.m.*
Sept. 2 Home tri-match (vs. Andalusia 5 p.m., vs. Escambia County 6 p.m.)
Sept. 7 Flomaton Away 5 p.m.*
Sept. 9 Clarke County Away 5 p.m.*
Sept. 14 Tri-match at Andalusia 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 Opp Home 4:30 p.m. (Varsity Doubles)
Sept. 21 W.S. Neal Away 5 p.m.*
Sept. 25 Clarke County Tournament
Sept. 28 Home Tri-match (vs. Thomasville 6 p.m.; vs. Flomaton 7 p.m.)
Oct. 5 Tri-match at Escambia County (vs. Escambia County and Opp)
Oct. 7 W.S. Neal Home 5 p.m.*
Oct. 9 Escambia County Tournament
Oct. 11 Jay (Fla.) Away 4 p.m. (Varsity Doubles)
Oct. 14 Clarke County Home 4:30 p.m.*
* includes junior varsity match