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Unscheduled vacation almost over for WSN, TRM volleyball

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
While the football programs at W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller High Schools went back to work last week, the volleyball programs at the respective schools will do so this week after nearly two weeks of disruption.
W.S. Neal has lost eight matches and five dates off its schedule since it last played September 13 at Clarke County.
The Lady Blue Eagles will return to the court Monday when they host Opp in a varsity/junior varsity twinbill starting at 4 p.m. W.S. Neal will also play an afternoon special Tuesday when it hosts Escambia County and Andalusia in a tri-match that gets underway at 2 p.m.
Perhaps even worse than the lack of competition for W.S. Neal has been the lack of practice. The Lady Blue Eagles' last practice before Hurricane Ivan was nearly three weeks ago on September 8.
"We're going to try to bring the girls in for a few minutes before we play Opp to let them work on some things. We haven't even touched a volleyball in nearly two weeks," W.S. Neal coach Kraig Rittenhouse said. "I haven't been able to get in touch with most of my players. I've been without electric and phone service myself for a week plus I had a lot of damage to my house."
Even when school is expected to resume Monday, Rittenhouse does not expect a 100-percent return among team members.
"As much as we'd like for it to be, attendance at school that first day back won't be 100 percent. There are going to be some kids who don't have power or telephone service. Some may still be unable to get to school because of trees blocking their roads. Some may not be aware school will be back in session," Rittenhouse said.
The W.S. Neal coach said it is likely most of his team's dates will not be made up. One exception for both the Lady Blue Eagles and T.R. Miller is the Clarke County Tournament. That tournament was originally scheduled for yesterday (September 18). It will now be played October 16.
"I'd like to make up the lost dates, but we're already playing two and three days every week until the end of the season as it is. I don't see how we can make them all up," Rittenhouse said. "It's a shame for the girls and our program. I had hoped we would be able to make some progress this season. With two weeks chopped out of the middle of our season, I'm not worried about winning games right now. I just want the girls to go out and have some fun. Actually we need to play if for no other reason than to just give us a diversion from what has been going on in our personal lives the last couple of weeks."
T.R. Miller was not hit quite as hard as W.S. Neal on its schedule. The Lady Tigers have lost three dates and six matches from its slate since it last played September 14 at Andalusia. T.R. Miller will resume competition Tuesday when it hosts Thomasville and Flomaton in a tri-match that gets underway at 5 p.m.