By Jeffery Armstrong
The North Clayton Lady Eagles became the third county high school to qualify for the state volleyball playoffs since its inception here three years ago, finishing second in Region 4-AAAA in 2002.
Now that the Lady Eagles have made it to state, they are hungry for more in 2003.
"The girls know they have what it takes to succeed and they plan to succeed," said North Clayton head volleyball coach Kimleon Turner. "They got a taste of winning and making state and want to do it again. I'm going to push them as hard as I can."
The Lady Eagles, led by senior Alona Star Brinson, finished 16-13 last year and made it to the region finals, losing to eventual state champion Woodward Academy. North Clayton then lost in the first round of the state playoffs.
"Alona Star basically carried the team last season," said Turner.
Even though North Clayton loses Brinson, who heads to Albany State University, the Lady Eagles will field an athletic, experienced team. They will feature three seniors, Kendra Courtland, Christina Royster and Kim Polite and several juniors who played a lot last season.
The one thing many of these players have in common is chemistry and coaching. Nearly every volleyball player also plays for Turner on the basketball team; in fact, Turner said only four girls on the team play just volleyball.
The girls are not just playing volleyball just keep busy until basketball season begins n Turner said they are truly focused on being better volleyball players.
"Our goal for this season is to get back to state and win a match," he said. "My players are really dedicated to playing volleyball. We won't even pick up a basketball until it's time to do so."
Turner said he expects Courtland to have a breakout year and he said Jasmine Sykes is one of his best servers. Both girls play basketball. Another basketball player, Ashley Johnson, will be counted on to help the Lady Eagles fly high in Region 4-AAAA.