Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 18, 2012

Tigers volleyball team to play in Charleston Civic Center

PRINCETON — A road trip to the state capital city often means some sightseeing — but not for the Princeton volleyball team this Wednesday.

When the girls make their annual appearance in the Charleston Civic Center Volleyball Showcase, head coach Leslie Graham said, “All it is, is volleyball. We’re up there for business.”

The Tigers will take on Lewis County at about 7 p.m., followed by a Mountain State Athletic Conference match with Capital in the spacious Civic Center.

“It’s a different atmosphere,” Graham said. “The ceilings are so high, the lights are bright. Playing in a bigger area just gets you ready for next step, whether that would be the state tournament, or the sectionals and regionals ... or playing at a college level.”

The annual showcase will include 12 teams playing on four courts, Graham said.

“The main goal is to showcase the sport of volleyball, to kind of bring awareness of volleyball so more people will come out and support it,” she said.

The process of building a fan base, locally and statewide, has required patience. “It’s getting there, but it’s slowly getting there,” Graham said.

Princeton has participated in the event continuously for at least the last seven years. “I’ve always done it since I’ve been coach,” Graham said.

“The purpose is also to get a lot of the teams to the capital because college coaches may be there, and they get a chance to see lots of people play. ... There’s all kinds of teams that are there.”

The showcase is a three-day event starting this evening, but Princeton’s appearances are set for Wednesday. In all, 36 high schools will face the nets.

Princeton has a record of 7-3 going into this evening’s home match with Greater Beckley Christian, scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

“Greater Beckley is always good, even if they’re single-A,” Graham said.

Princeton’s successful start to the season “goes back to experience,” the coach said.

“This group that I have is the first group after my ‘big graduating class’ ... four years ago. This group I had as freshmen when they left.

“They got to go up to varsity because there really weren’t many experienced players in front of them, so they have a lot of varsity experience.”

“Also, in the summer they’ve been playing a lot of travel volleyball that they haven’t in the past, [and] seeing a higher level of competition.”

Asked about the rest of the 2012 campaign, she said, “I think the second half of my season is a lot more challenging in terms of the schedule. We’ll see how good of a team we are.”

“It might be a little tougher road ahead of us, but it’s show us what we need to know to be ready for sectionals.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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