By Jeffery Armstrong
This time last year was difficult for the Morrow Lady Mustangs volleyball team and their head coach Yolanda Jenkins.
The 2003 Lady Mustangs had to practice and play every game away from Morrow High due to overall construction in the gym. The team couldn't even play its senior night match at home.
"Last year was really rough n we had to bus to practice and bus to games. We never could get home at a decent hour," said Jenkins. "We felt like we were always rushing, always on the run. It was exhausting."
The 2004 Lady Mustangs should be able to get much more rest, especially early in the volleyball season. Morrow has its first three matches at home before heading to Augusta on Aug. 28 to participate in the Greenbrier High playdate. The only other home match is scheduled for Oct. 5 against county rival Jonesboro.
"I'm so glad to have some home matches this year," Jenkins said.
It is a testament to Jenkins' coaching and the talent of the players that Morrow managed to compile a 23-6 record last season, despite not playing a home match. Morrow made it all the way to the Area 2-AAAAA title game, only to lose to Jonesboro. The Lady Mustangs did qualify for the state playoffs, but lost in the first round to Kennesaw Mountain and Lassiter.
Jenkins said her team definitely wants to improve on that finish this season.
"I think we'll do well. The girls are self-motivated; they want to be winners," she said. "In years past, I was the one who fired them up to play. This year, they are correcting each other and motivating each other."
Hopefully, that motivation will work for Morrow as they will compete in a revamped Area 2-AAAAA. The Lady Mustangs will only face two familiar foes in their area ? Riverdale and Mundy's Mill. The rest of their area foes ? Stephenson, Redan, Lithonia, Tri-Cities and Douglass n are all new opponents.
"I don't have a clue about the non-county teams in our area. It will be a new experience for us," Jenkins said. "If some of the teams trot out three girls who are 6-foot-5, I just have to tell my team to be ready to play."
Since this is the first time in four years that Morrow will play new opponents, Jenkins said she will have to focus on preparing her team to play well.
"I don't know about many of the teams we face this year, so I'm going to work on us. I'm going to have us work on the things we need to do to be a better team," she said.
Jenkins also said Morrow will have to work on serve receiving and passing if the team plans to compete for the area title. The team's strength is their serving.
Key players for Morrow this year will be junior outside and middle hitter Jordan Greenleaf (a three-year starter on varsity), senior setter Alexis Ofodile, senior outside hitter Danielle Taylor, junior defensive specialist Brittney Watson and junior setter Tara Thorton, the team's best server.