• By Thomas Mims, Sport Writer

Volley Jackets playing ‘extremely confident’

The Woodford County High School volleyball team has started the season strong. Heading into a big Thursday night showdown with Bryan Station in Lexington, both teams have only lost a single match this season, and the Lady Jackets are a confident bunch. “The confidence level this year is drastically different,” says junior Piper McCoun. “We’re extremely confident,” adds fellow junior Legend Burgess. “I feel like since we’re focusing more on just holding up our side (on defense), everything else just seems to fall through (on offense).” For McCoun, this early season run has been years in the making. “Having played with these girls together for so long, things are finally just starting to click. We’ve all been playing with one another since middle school. I think our chemistry has a lot do with our confidence because we know how one another plays, what kind of teammate they are, their emotional and mental needs and so on,” she said. The Lady Jackets are expressive on the court, with no problems being themselves. Like the defense, that seems to start with the middle-hitter pair of Burgess and Devan Champion. The pair rank second and first on the team in blocks, respectively. When the ball comes over the net, the duo often act as the first to respond, and when the team needs energy, they’re often the first to provide it. “I think Devan and I have the biggest personalities,” says Burgess. “We’re like the starting sound and then the rest of the team feeds off of it.” Champion agrees with that assesment, but also mentions that McCoun is also part of that. The junior captain oftentimes has been the player to end any in-game slumps the team might have. McCoun’s senior co-captain, Evelyn Milburn, is another voice you’ll hear often at games. The senior setter plays a role that requires constant communication to be effective. Burgess says, “She’s the setter so she has to be loud. When you see her in class or school, she isn’t extremely quiet or anything, but on the court it’s a completely different type of loud. It really helps us.” The Volley Jackets host the Woodford County Invitational this weekend. The team is looking for a third consecutive first-place tournament finish after winning its division at the Bluegrass State Games in the preseason and winning the Boyle County Invitational Aug. 24. Champion believes that preseason tournament win, and the bonding that came with it, have been a factor into the regular season performance as well. “In the preseason Coach Bottom harped on us about having fun and the concept that we’re a family, not just a team. Everything we did to bond as a team in the preseason is starting to show to everyone else watching, said Champion. For those who haven’t seen the team yet, this weekend offers a prime chance to see those personalities stand out on the court. The WCI will offer a full day of volleyball as Woodford competes in a field with Bryan Station, Ludlow, Marion County, Montgomery County, North Bullitt and Scott County.

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