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Neal shaping up for season

The W.S. Neal Eagles volleyball team has been hard at work this summer prepping for the 2016 season which begins on Aug. 25 at home versus Excel.

Last year was a subpar year, after the Lady Eagles varsity team finished below .500. This spring the team graduated some key players. Despite those odds, head coach Jason Blaney said he is optimistic about the possibilities for this season.

“I think we have had a real decent summer,” Blaney said.  “We were unable to play any tournaments due to conflicts of schedule, but we have worked hard in the weight room and on the court.”

The varsity will return four seniors this year. They are Dinah Samuel, Alexis McNew, Caitlyn Stuckey and Hope Waldrop. Rounding out the varsity team will be juniors Marishia Fraser, Kayla Ball, Erin Salter and Anijah Stewart.

“They have a lot of experience and we are leaning on that this season,” Blaney said.

Corey Williams | The Brewotn Standard Dinah Samuel serves the ball for the Lady Eagles. Neal will face Excel on Aug. 25.

Corey Williams | The Brewotn Standard
Dinah Samuel serves the ball for the Lady Eagles. Neal will face Excel on Aug. 25.

The JV team will be a young bunch led by junior Erin Grantham and includes sophomores, Arieyonna Collins, Alliada Crapp, Tori Gillam, Brianna Pate, Ajilon Paul and Kim Stuckey; and freshmen, Aaliyah Askew, Alyssa Askew, Baileigh Cooley, Brianna Dees and Jailen McKinney.

Blaney said the future looks bright for years to come with the depth of his junior varsity team.

“Those girls have been working extremely hard with possibility of some moving up before season end,” he said. “The future of Neal volleyball is bright.”

Neal will matchup versus Escambia County and Monroe County in area games.

“We play (Escambia County) yearly, but they have a new coach so I expect their defense/offense may be different,” Blaney said.

Neal will play Escambia County at home on Sept. 8 and on the road on Sept. 27. They will play Monroe County at home on Sept. 15 and on the road on Oct. 6.