BY RICK WRIGHT –
The Ladycats knocked off the Mulberry Lady Yellowjackets three games to none Thursday, September 8th at Mulberry. Mena edged Mulberry 25-22 in game one, then cruised to a 25-10 win in game two. Mena dominated game three 25-7 to win the match.
“We didn’t play very well against Mulberry,” said Lyle. “It was a different type game. Mulberry was pretty weak. We came out of that game and just took it to Booneville, which is a very good team. Fought Paris as hard as you can fight Paris without winning. Now that we realize that we’re good, there is a whole new challenge there, to keep the girls motivated to keep getting better. Not to take days off.”
After the game with Paris the Paris coach told Lyle that he wished they could play all the time. “We both realize we are both getting better,” said Lyle. “We didn’t get better at Mulberry. That’s what your schedule says you have to go do.”
“I do have a confident bunch of girls who believe,” said Lyle. “It took a while to overcome that, but now we just have to go finish. We’ve got to make that run that we know we can make.”
The Ladycat success speaks volumes about the Mena Volleyball Program and training. The natural thing to say is your horses graduate, that’s going to happen. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen. These young ladies are learning volleyball from a small age and they are coming on.
“I remember when I was a young coach and we took a group of kids to Harding to a team camp, at Harding University. At the gym, there was a big sign down at the end that says “Tradition doesn’t Graduate”. I remember thinking, trying to understand what that sign was saying. I don’t want to be that team that plays for state championship’s then doesn’t make the state tournament. You can’t always control that. I played in the semi-finals of the state one year and didn’t make the state tournament next year. One of the things we do is we play a lot of kids. Yes, we graduated some really good players, but we had four girls that played a little bit, a lot or a bunch. And so, it’s hard to graduate 11. We graduated seven very good ones, but we got four pretty good ones back, now we’ve got three or four kids who have stepped up. Graduation will be hard this year too.”
Lyle is equally proud of the Mena junior high volleyball team coming up next year that is showing incredible potential as well. “They are doing things some high school teams don’t do,” said Lyle. “Success breeds success. There are little girls walking around in this community, that they don’t know how it’s going to happen, but they think ‘I’m going to be good at volleyball! Don’t know how I’m going to be but I’m suppose to be good at volleyball’. I believe that’s the case because that’s a wonderful side to be on. I didn’t build it up to that, it was Hobson and the other’s who had it really going good.”
The Ladycats travel to Lavaca Thursday, September 16th with game set to begin at 6 p.m. The Junior Ladycat Volleyball team will host a tournament, Saturday at the Mena High School Gym with the first matches set to get underway at 9 a.m.