It’s been a busy summer for the Cleveland volleyball team. The Lady Raiders spent practice time under Sewanee head coach Nancy Mueller-Culver, camped with the Siegel Stars — who finished third in …
It’s been a busy summer for the Cleveland volleyball team.
The Lady Raiders spent practice time under Sewanee head coach Nancy Mueller-Culver, camped with the Siegel Stars — who finished third in the state — and are now preparing for the upcoming season.
Head coach Patricia Flowers is hoping all the hard work and dedication she has seen from the Lady Raiders during summer volleyball will pay dividends in a return trip to the state tournament and even better results at The Glass House in Murfreesboro.
“We’ve had a busy summer. We went to Siegel High School for a week, and attended the Ole Miss camp with them. We competed with them and did really well. We’ve played a lot and basically seen, before the season starts, everybody that went to the state tournament,” said Flowers whose team finished at the top of the district standings and second in the region.
“We’ve got a great core group. We’ve faced everybody. We went to Farragut where we played Farragut, Dobyns-Bennett, Hardin Valley Academy and Brentwood. They are top-notch teams and we played well. We still have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but I thinks it’s going to be a really fun season for me.”
The Lady Raiders lost four quality seniors to graduation in 2017 including All-Stater Emma Flowers who is now working on her college career at Lincoln Memorial. The good news for Cleveland is the five seniors coming in to replace the quality group that helped push the team to a state tournament berth last season.
Seniors Anna Renshaw (outside hitter), Lydia Martin (libero), Nicole Glaser (outside hitter/middle blocker), Madeline Dasher (right side hitter) and Cydney Brock (right side hitter/middle blocker) make up a solid core according to Flowers, who also had high praise for sophomore Joy Douglass.
“She’s just shining. I keep thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’ve got her for three more years!’” said Flowers of the outside hitter.
“Anna is fun to watch. She creates points. She finds a way to score for us. Lydia is a beast. She is doing so well. Nicole is doing phenomenal and Cydney has improved a ton. She is probably my tallest player and has improved so much.”
Flowers also pointed out senior Dasher has been receiving much notice from coaches across the region.
“It seem like everywhere we go, coaches recognize her leadership and her energy,” she said.
Middle blocker Junior Lily Oliver and sophomore defensive specialist Elliott Brock will see numerous minutes for the Lady Raiders and garnered preseason commendation from Flowers.
“Lilly was our best blocker last year and continues to be a phenomenal blocker. She is going to be exciting to watch. Elliott excelled this summer during club season and has earned a starting position on varsity. She’s probably the only one who is new to the varsity lineup.”
Overall, the Lady Raiders’ coach has been pleased with the rapport and spark shown over the offseason.
“As far as our varsity lineup, everyone who is playing are returning varsity players and have participated in the state tournament with us for two years. We are bringing back a group of veterans. I think it’s going to be exciting,” said Flowers.
“I feel like, and I may be wrong because it’s early and I don’t want to jinx our season, but this might be one of the scrappiest teams I’ve ever had, given the way they go after balls. There is a chemistry there that I haven’t experienced in a while. We’ve always had great teams, but this group could turn out to be very special. It’s amazing. They have been very easy to coach. I’m excited for people to watch us this year.”
Previously, the Lady Raiders followed the lead of one or two power hitters who controlled, for the most part, the flow and tempo. The new season will see more of the group effort Flowers feels may have been lacking.
“We have a lot of girls who are contributing to our success. That is very much needed,” she said. “We don’t just have one power hitter. A lot of teams experience the joy of having that. It’s also joyful when all of your girls can contribute.”
“What helped us last year is we just focused on the week ahead, the game we were about to play. I feel that really helped us have another unexpected visit to 'the Boro.' This year we want to do that same thing. We have some realistic goals to deal with first like finishing at the top of our district and make it to the region championship, things like that which are feasible goals for us.”
Flowers said she hopes Lady Raiders fans will share her enthusiasm.
“I want people to come out and watch us play. I’m proud of these girls. They are a special group,” she said.
Print subscribers have FREE access to clevelandbanner.com by registering HERE
Non-subscribers have limited monthly access to local stories, but have options to subscribe to print, web or electronic editions by clicking HERE
We are sorry but you have reached the maximum number of free local stories for this month. If you have a website account here, please click HERE to log in for continued access.
If you are a print subscriber but do not have an account here, click HERE to create a website account to gain unlimited free access.
Non-subscribers may gain access by subscribing to any of our print or electronic subscriptions HERE