Lady Tigers not concerned with numbers


The Demopolis High School volleyball team is scheduled to open its season Thursday, Aug. 29 with a home tri-match against Thomasville and Dallas County.

Between now and then, DHS coach Blythe Smith and her Lady Tigers will be focusing on team chemistry.

“Historically, communication has been key for us,” Smith said. “And our lack of communication has cost us games.”

Smith’s task this season revolves around promoting on-court and off-court chemistry between nine players, the fewest number of athletes the program has seen in her tenure.

“The greatest challenge with nine people is the threat of injury,” Smith said. “We have to stay healthy and stay on the floor. I’m definitely building a lot more conditioning into our daily practices because those dates that we have tri-matches, girls will have to conditioned enough to last for three hours instead of an hour and a half. And with having only nine girls, some will be playing every minute of every game.”

The road will not be an easy one for the Lady Tigers as Smith has stacked the schedule with seven tri-matches among the team’s 15 dates.

Still, Smith is undaunted by the task, citing the advantages of a smaller team. Those advantages, she said, range from the opportunity to be more of a tight-knit group to other intangible on-court pluses.

“With less subs, the girls will have an opportunity to get into more of a rhythm,” Smith said.

The roster returns six players from a 2012 group that made its second consecutive trip to the regional tournament.

Senior Riley King, who has played for Smith in each of the coach’s four seasons at the helm of the program, serves as the squad’s most experienced member.

“She has to assume the leadership role in the group,” Smith said of King. “She has the ability to keep a level head and find ways to motivate others on the team. As long as she can keep that focus, she’ll be an important part of our chemistry.”

The Lady Tigers also return a stacked junior class that includes setter Jade Montgomery, 6-foot-2-inch middle hitter Caleb Washington and back row standout Alex Barnett.

“I’m looking for them to finally reach their potential,” Smith said of her juniors. “I feel like for the past few years, they’ve been working on the fundamentals and their skillset. Now I need them to take that to a new level and be a factor.”

Athletic sophomores Brianna Pruitt and Ivery Moore round out the list of returners for DHS and offer the squad plenty of potential at the net.

“Brianna and Ivery have the potential to be all-around players,“ Smith said. “They are both very strong and have the ability to leap. They have the potential to dominate the net.”

The team’s newcomers include senior Jacqueline Barnes, junior Katie Marques and freshman Abbe Sims.

“All three have managed to find their niche within in the team as a whole,“ Smith said of the trio of new faces. “All three have improved in terms of skill and will be called upon in key moments for us throughout the year.”

The Lady Tigers will again be called upon to navigate a region that includes Greenville, Selma and reigning champion Sumter-Central.

The non-region slate sees contests with Thomasville, Dallas County, Jackson, Hale County, Linden, American Christian Academy, Clarke County, Hale County, Greensboro, John Essex and West Blocton.


Aug. 29 vs. Thomasville/Dallas County – 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 3 vs. Jackson/Hale County – 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 5 vs. Sumter-Central – 5 p.m. *
Sept. 9 vs. John Essex – 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 @ Greenville – 5 p.m. *
Sept. 12 @ Selma – 4:30 p.m. *
Sept. 24 @ Thomasville/Linden (Thomasville) – 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 @ ACA – 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 @ Jackson/Clarke County (Jackson) – 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Selma – 4:30 p.m. *
Oct. 3 @ Hale County/Greensboro (Hale County) – 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 8 @ West Blocton – 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 vs. Greenville  – 4:30 p.m. *
Oct. 14 @ Dallas County – 5 p.m.
Oct. 15 @ Sumter-Central – 4:30 p.m. *

Italics = home game

* denotes region game