Lady Eagles make progress under rookie skipper

Published 4:33 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2006

By Staff
A couple of months ago Britney Shelly stepped into a sport where she had never gone before.
Since then the W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles volleyball coach has taken her program to places it has never gone before.
Shelly had no experience in volleyball when she took over the program's reins just days before practice was set to get to begin. During her brief time with the program, Shelly guided W.S. Neal to its first winning regular season with a 9-8 record, a school record for wins in a season and the team's first wins ever over Opp and county rival Flomaton.
One step forward for W.S. Neal was it passed an endurance test. The Lady Blue Eagles had a stretch where they played five straight matches that went the maximum five sets. W.S. Neal went 4-1 during that stretch.
As the Lady Blue Eagles entered Class 4A Area 2 Tournament play Tuesday at T.R. Miller, they had their fourth and final opportunity to claim the biggest item that was missing from their regular season accomplishment list.
The accomplishment list does not stop at the varsity level. W.S. Neal's junior varsity team won three games and showed steady improvement throughout the season. The Lady Blue Eagles had never won a junior varsity match prior to this season.
Shelly admits some of those eighth graders may have to make a big jump next season. The Lady Blue Eagles are losing seniors Katelin Hulley, Jessica Fountain, Jamica Thomas and Erica Cardwell from their lineup.
Shelly is already considering ways to continue to build the program.
year is get into more tournaments,” Shelly said. &#8220We just had one this year, the county tournament, and it did not come until the tail end of the season. While the teams in that tournament were teams we had already played, they had a lot more tournament experience during the season than we did. The other thing tournaments do is it gives us a chance to see some different teams.”
Shelly said another big focus is offseason work next summer.
One thing Shelly will not have to do next year is take a crash course right before the season starts just to learn the sport.

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