Lady Eagles hope to take advantage of experience

Published 9:43 am Monday, August 21, 2006

By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
Britney Shelly has learned a lot the last couple of weeks since she took over the W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles volleyball program.
Then again, as a first-year coach and her first experience with volleyball, she has had a lot to learn.
Shelly was thrust into the position when preceding coach Chuck Riddle resigned after one season in order to become a game warden. Riddle guided the Lady Blue Eagles to their most successful season last season, albeit W.S. Neal's record was only 7-15. Those seven wins came against two schools, five against a winless Escambia County team and the other two against a first-year Monroe County program.
One thing that has made Shelly's transition easier is the fact she inherited a team that returns virtually everybody. Many of the projected Lady Blue Eagles starters will be in the lineup for a third season.
As is to be expected with a veteran team, there are not many cracks for newcomers to slip into the lineup.
The bulk of the hitting game figures to come in the middle courtesy of 5-10 junior Maggie Crutchfield, who led the squad in kills last season.
The other middle hitter spot will probably got o 5-7 senior Katelin Hulley. While Caitlyn Blackman, a 5-7 sophomore who the niece of the coach, is projected as an outside hitter at this time, Shelly said she could slide into the other spot alongside Crutchfield.
The other outside hitter spot may be the most uncertain spot in the lineup. Jamica Thomas, a 5-7 senior, and Krystie Rolin, a 5-8 junior, may have the early inside track for that spot. Molly Carlson, a 5-5 junior, and Qwiaeona Green, a 5-6 sophomore, are also trying to work their way into the equation.
The two setter spots should be set with 5-3 senior Jessica Fountain and 5-4 senior Erica Cardwell.
Brandi Schell, a 5-6 sophomore, is slated to be a defensive specialist.
Shelly would like to see her program do something it has never done before, win a postseason game. If W.S. Neal accomplishes that, it would advance to its first regional tournament.