The Lady Rebels volleyball team finished 7-9 last season, which was good for fifth place in the Carolina 1A conference. North Duplin was optimistic early on into the season as the Rebels got off to a 4-0 start; however, the rest of the season games squashed chances for a playoff run.
With all but one player returning and talent coming up from junior varsity, coach Laura Thornton says, “We are looking forward to an exciting 2019 season. We hope to build upon our knowledge and skills this year to be competitive.”
The Lady Rebels have been asked to make a list of individual goals and team goals for this season, something that Thornton says she hopes will help develop her team. In volleyball, if a team’s serves are not consistent then points are freely given to the opposition and that hurt the Rebels on many occasions in 2018. This year, Thornton is emphasizing the importance of playing on the right side of consistency.
“Serving consistency is crucial to our success, so that is certainly one skill we will be focusing on,” she said. “Also, learning rotations and how to play our strengths will be our initial tasks in the first part of the season. Us doing this will help us sort out how we can be most effective.”
One of the biggest strengths of the Rebels will be its leadership. Thornton’s Rebels have three seniors who have played all four years of high school: Cassy King at setter; Jamilyn Wallace, who was the Rebels’ lead blocker last year; and Breanna Hinnant as their defensive specialist and setter. With the emergence of Callie Thornton, who has played club and AAU volleyball all summer long, and with the depth from players like Hannah Martin, Starr Jaco, Samantha Beavers and Gretta Lee, the Rebels seem to have all the tools to make a run.
“Our team needs to sort out how we can be most effective as a team,” Thornton said. “We need to work on the fundamentals of serving, passing, blocking and coverage. Our 2019 Lady Rebels Volleyball team has a lot of potentials and we are looking forward to growing individually and as a team.”
The Rebels will play their first regular-season match on Aug. 22, but there is a chance to see them before regular season play gets underway. The Saints will travel to South Lenoir in Deep Run on Wednesday to play in a volleyball jamboree with the first match against Swansboro beginning at 10:30 a.m.