LCM to Battle for Volleyball Title
Last updated 7/26/2022 at 9:30am
The enthusiasm for volleyball at Little Cypress-Mauriceville is growing. The Lady Bears were a good team last year and should be a strong district contender this coming season.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville did not finish as strong as Coach Rhonda Williams hoped the Lady Bears would do. Third place in the district did get the Lady Bears into the post season though.
In the first round LCM played a good Liberty team which had defeated the Lady Bears in the first match of last season. The Lady Bears turned the tables on the Lady Panthers and earned a great win in the playoffs.
In the second round Little Cypress-Mauriceville played the fifth ranked in the state Bellville Lady Brahmas in the hardest match of the season. The Lady Bears season came to end in their loss to Bellville which eventually lost in the state championship game.
That loss could actually help the Lady Bears for this season. "It gave us a lot to look forward to this year and some things that we knew we needed to work on this year to get us ready to face that type of competition," Williams analyzed.
The Lady Bears lost four seniors from that team. Williams evaluated, "I have a strong senior class with six seniors this year and some strong underclassmen who will step in to the varsity team to help make us more well-rounded."
Four senior Lady Bears are back on the varsity this season. Defensive specialist Savannah Crabtree, libero Paola Robles, setter Hallie Maddox, and middle hitter Chrissy Joseph will be leaders for Coach Williams as she starts her fourth year with LCM this season.
Defense should be a strong suit for the Lady Bears and is emphasized daily by Williams in practices and prior to games. Crabtree and Robles did a great job playing the back row last year defensively for Little Cypress-Mauriceville.
Both Savannah and Paola are expected to step up in their defensive roles this season. "I expect more from them this year as far as digs and even being able to get some swings from the back row. Paola as my libero is the person who's in charge of the back row, and she does a great job of communicating with the team and making sure that she's vocal enough so that everyone knows where they should be at any point and time on the court," Williams elaborated.
Robles understands the duties that come with her being the libero for the Lady Bears. "My responsibilities are to be able to pass the ball, give my setter a good pass so my hitters can achieve their best hits, and we can score a point," Robles described.
Chrissy Joseph in the middle is very versatile. She can put up a big block when needed and the coach has been working with her hitting different positions other than middle. Williams confirmed, "I'm looking to use her versatility on the court to be able to make sure my offense is where it needs to be."
Willams added that Joseph is also a great defender on the back row. A bonus is Chrissy's very consistent serve, and she can be counted on for great touches on the ball from the back row.
The fourth senior returning to the Lady Bears is setter Hallie Maddox. "Hallie's everything to our team. She is the one I count on the most. She was co-captain last year, and Hallie will take on the role as team captain solely this year. She's very level headed. She keeps everyone organized. She keeps emotions at a minimum when everyone is on the court, but she does have a passion for the game that can't go unnoticed when she's on the court," Williams proclaimed.
Hallie accepts the assignment to be the Lady Bears' captain. "It comes with a responsibility of just making sure everybody feels encouraged and are always at a hundred percent. I want to make sure everybody has a spot and nobody feels left out," Maddox explained.
At a volleyball camp at Stephen F. Austin University two weeks ago Maddox received the best all-around camper award for things she's able to contribute on the court. Williams pointed out, "Not only is Hallie the setter, but she's also a very good hitter for me. I'm looking to have her be an even better player than she was last year as a junior when she steps into this senior role as the varsity team captain this year."
There are a couple of underclassmen returning to the varsity roster. Junior Lexi Tubbleville is a defensive specialist. Tubbleville played club volleyball, has played beach volleyball this summer, has been working really hard during the off season to improve her defensive game, and as a result should see playing time on the back row according to Williams.
Tubbleville was moved up from the junior varsity last season and earned her spot on the Lady Bears. "Lexi is just a go getter. She's the one who will jump over the bleachers and chase a ball down. She'll do everything possible not to let a ball hit the floor. She just brings so much energy to the team," Williams responded.
Sophomore Jazel Guilbeaux the other returning underclassman was moved up to the varsity last year to attend tournaments at the beginning of the season. Guilbeaux ended up staying on the varsity throughout last year and saw a lot of time on the court.
Jazel has been working during the off season, she's played club volleyball, and she's been working all summer to make sure that she gets more quality touches on the ball. She started as the second middle last year opposite Chrissy Joseph.
This year Coach Williams thinks she has found a new role for Guilbeaux. "I love versatility in my players, and I've been working on her hitting at different positions, and she's really stepping up and beginning to get comfortable hitting in other positions, and she provides such a great block for me I can literally put her anywhere on the net and it's almost guaranteed that she's going to get some type of touch on the ball if not a solo block. I'm excited that she worked so hard in the off season to improve her game," Williams praised.
Tubbleville and Guilbeaux will be important Lady Bears this season. Williams stated, "I'm just excited to have these underclassmen back to be able to offer a more solid team for me this year."
Two other seniors are expected to play on the varsity for the first time this season. Kenna Peveto is a versatile player who on the junior varsity last year hit outside, right side, and middle.
Peveto played club volleyball, and Coach Williams used her in the middle and outside. "Regardless of where I put Kenna, she's given me the numbers that I need stat wise in order to be a productive team. I haven't really decided where I want to use Kenna yet, but I know she's versatile and wherever I put her she's going to do great things," Williams affirmed.
Mariah Ammons is the other senior moving up to the varsity this year. Ammons plays very good on the front row, also performs well on the back row as a defender, and brings an enthusiastic goodwill for each member of her team the coach has noticed.
Ammons is an outsider hitter and has a consistent serve. Williams added, "Mariah's another one who when she's in the back row and the ball is coming anywhere near her she's going to go get it and I don't have to say a word because she will sacrifice her body, she'll get on the floor, she'll dive into chairs, she will do whatever is necessary to make sure that she saves that ball for her team."
Sophomore Lindi Perry is another Lady Bear who has worked hard to make the varsity squad this year. Perry played club ball and has been working really hard during the off season.
Perry's determination to make the Little Cypress-Mauriceville volleyball team has led her to even taken private lessons to get better at the middle hitter position. "Lindi is very coachable, she has a great attitude, she'll do anything I ask her to do and however I ask her to do it she'll get it done for me, and she'll give her best effort at it. I'm looking at Lindi also to be a key player offensively and defensively on the net for me," Williams stated.
In the anticipation of the upcoming season mandatory practices start on August 1 for the Lady Bears. There will be three days of tryouts for Williams to assign the girls to either the varsity, junior varsity, or ninth grade squads.
The number one task for Coach Williams is putting the pieces of the puzzle together for this season. "I have so many girls who have been competing against each other for positions. It's great friendly competition, they want to be the best team in the area, they want to be the best at their positions, they work really hard at competing against each other, so they're making my job very hard to decide who needs to play where and what six need to be on the court at any point and time. Right now that is our weakness, how do we put the puzzle together," Williams pondered.
The strength for the Lady Bears as a team and as individuals is their versatility. Williams confirmed, "My girls are so versatile that they're at least a master of two different positions, and that's great because I have girls that can do it all." This has Williams excited to have multiple six-rotation players that never have to come off the court and keep their opponents guessing as to where anyone of the Lady Bears is going to play.
Coach Williams strongly believes the Battlin' Lady Bears are going to compete for a district title this year and is excited for the start of the season with the opening scrimmages the first week of August. "I look forward to that competition, I look forward to putting my girls in that position to be able to compete against other teams to show how hard they've been working. It makes my heart smile to think about how dedicated and enthusiastic these girls are to this program and to me," Williams admitted.
The coach definitely thinks Little Cypress-Mauriceville will finish higher than third place like it did last season. Williams said, "Sometimes you have to get knocked down in order to build yourself back up, and I think last year was our year to get knocked down, but we bounced back in a way that I think surprised many people in the area.
Bridge City will be the team to beat going into the district season because the Lady Cardinals have won the last two district championships, but Williams promised the Lady Bears will battle them. "We are right there. It's going to be an exciting game each time we play them, and we're looking to come out on top, of course, because that's what we've been preparing ourselves for. Now it's just a matter of mentally putting it all out on the court and physically putting it all out on the court in order to be successful and come out at the top of this district," Williams concluded.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville plays its first game against Liberty at The Grove on Monday, August 8. The district schedule starts Tuesday, September 13, at The Grove against the Bridge City Lady Cardinals. Ninth grade begins at 4:30 PM with the junior varsity to follow, and the varsity game to finish that evening's competition.