By Anthony Rhoads
The Jonesboro Lady Cardinals accomplished quite a bit last year on the volleyball court.
They won the Clayton County tournament and the Area 2-AAAAA, earning their third trip to the Class AAAAA state tournament.
The Lady Cardinals were undefeated after beating Morrow for the area title but they couldn't keep up the momentum going into the state sectionals. The Lady Cardinals ended the 2004 campaign with a 35-2 record.
Even though it was a successful season last year, the Lady Cardinals have their sights set even higher this year.
"We have accomplished a lot," Jonesboro head coach Dan Maehlman said. "We're not satisfied with just getting back to the state playoffs. This year, we want to take it to a another level."
One key is getting more girls to play on club teams during the summer.
"We have six girls who played this year on club teams," Maehlman said. "All the schools on the northside, the Waltons and even the teams like McIntosh play with each other all year round."
In addition to getting the girls in better shape to play school ball, playing on a club team can definitely help the girls get a chance to play college volleyball. Maehlman said his team has two college prospects this year ? Latreace Johnson and Sheena Brown.
"They have the chance to become our first players to get volleyball scholarships," he said.
In addition to Johnson and Brown, other key players this year include seniors Shade' Smith and Amanda Traber.
This season, Jonesboro boasts an impressive freshman class and three of those young players, Shanice Smith (Shade's sister), Bobbi Boyer and June Hypolite, are expected to start.
"This is the best freshman class we've had in five years," Maehlman said.
Having the group of seniors and younger girls will be vital this year as Jonesboro lost two key players off last season's squad, setters Lauren Wood and Kathleen Williams.
"They brought a lot of leadership," Maehlman said. "Kathleen and Lauren ran the ship."
Jonesboro opens the 2004 season Aug. 17 against Eagle's Landing Christian Academy and Henry County at Henry County.
"They're getting at it pretty good," Maehlman said. "Our goal first is to win the county championship again, win the area tournament and go to state for the third time and show them we can play. We don't just want to show up. We look forward to this year."