Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 3, 2013

Panthers aim for state run again

By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

GARDNER — Practically the entire PikeView High School volleyball team that got to the state tournament last fall has returned for another shot at the big time.

The team’s tallest player, 5-foot-10 Alexis May, says they’re already more ready.

“This year we’re just more of a team together,” the senior said Monday. “We have worked hard all summer. We’ve all (gone) to camps; we’ve all worked our butts off to get back to where we were. And we all, honestly want it more this year, since we had the experience last year.”

The season starts today in the Princeton Senior High gym, with a tri-match that includes the Tigers and Class AA power Independence.

Head coach Steve Compton said on Tuesday evening, “We ought to get a good idea where we stand. Independence is always a top program in double-A. It ought to be really good for us.”

“We’ve been at it for a month now, and they’re ready to start playing. I think they’re sick of the gym.”

Even before the preseason practices started, he noted, “For the first time, we really took advantage of the three weeks in June (in which high school coaches and teams can work together). We played in four scrimmages ... .”

He said “anywhere from seven to 17 girls” came in for conditioning consistently during the summer. “(When we start in August), we don’t have to worry about conditioning. They’re in shape, so we can go right at it. They’re stronger, and it helps us out all the way around.”

One loss from last year’s starting lineup was Holly Mack, a top setter and an anchor of the team. She had more than 1,300 assists in her career, Compton said.

Senior Hannah Cook is the heir to that role. Compton said, “She led the team in aces. Her serving is tremendous.” He said Mack “is going to be hard to replace, but Hannah’s going to fill in the slot really good.”

Two juniors, Lyndsay Hatfield and Savannah Coalson, return as outside hitters. Hatfield “has gotten way better,” Compton said. May and left-handed junior Haleigh Compton, daughter of the coach, are the team’s middle hitters.

Senior Kristen Worrell will again handle the libero’s job of covering all corners of the floor.

“We’ll run an opposite this year, with Savanah Runion returning from last year,” Compton said. “We lost a defensive player, but we picked up a girl (Samantha Meadows) who played her first two years, but didn’t play last year.”

The future is bright as well, May said. “Our freshmen this year are outstanding, honestly,” she said. “We’ve only had three come in, and they’re all great. ... I’m just very proud of them all.”

PikeView was 24-19-1 last season, reaching the state volleyball tournament for the first time after defeating Independence and James Monroe in regional play. The Panthers lost to Ritchie County in the first round of the states at the Charleston Civic Center.

May said, “Last year, we played Ritchie County, and they were very, very strong. We didn’t have the experience last year. Hopefully this year, when we have the experience, we’ll be a lot better than last year.”

Compton said, “We went into last year (and) we didn’t have really high expectations, because we had lost Danielle Compton and Jordan Conner from the previous team. We lost a lot. We thought (2012) would be a rebuilding year, and we thought that this year would be our year.”

“Then last year, the girls just played together and they came together at the right time.”

“We weren’t disappointed that we got (to the state tournament), but we lost in the first round. That’s something you have to experience to be able to be prepared for.”

May said, “We learned last year that when we go to states, we have to calm down and not get so excited that we’re up there — and actually play volleyball as a team. We can’t be individually playing, but we have to play as a team — and get farther this year.”

Compton said, “Our motto this year is ‘Unfinished business,’ because we’d like to go back up there and finish up what we started.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com