Ross says Lady Chargers right on schedule

IMG_2273Oxford High’s volleyball team is three weeks into summer drills, and coach Tara Ross feels like her team is right on schedule.

The Lady Chargers don’t open the 2014 season for another month, but Ross has seen several good moments so far in summer matches and individual team workouts.

“I’m really proud of where we are, being that it’s the summer. I think we’re almost to where we were in the middle of the season last year,” Ross said. “That’s a great place to be in the summer. That just gives you lots of room to really take it to the next level. I think we’re in a good place, but our tendency is to be so jacked-up that we’re overconfident. We have to stay level-headed.”

Ross used the word “mindset” several times to describe how she wants her team to play. To Ross, the right mindset involves playing with consistency and purpose as much as anything.

“I told them that they need to push each other and to be there for each other,” Ross said. “I want us to be a good, solid team. We can’t give away points. In the past, we have a great play, and then we take off a play – or two or three. I feel like our enthusiasm is there, and they are supportive of one another. We have to be able to incorporate that with the younger kids and get them on the same page.”

Experienced youth
Ally Collier is the only senior on the team, but the majority of the players have all been in Ross’ system and playing in varsity matches.

“They’re experienced because they’ve been playing since the eighth grade,” Ross said. “Our biggest issue is going to be height, but I am very blessed to have so many good athletes. As tall as some people are, you can’t teach them to be athletes or to be aggressive, or enthusiastic. I feel like we have enough personnel to where we can move people around.”

There is no set varsity or junior varsity right now, Ross said, but she did add that there is a difference in the top 10 girls and the remaining 14 on the roster.

Off to camp
The Lady Chargers headed to Hattiesburg Tuesday morning to take part in Southern Miss’ skills camp. Ross felt like three days away from home would be beneficial as a whole, and for her leaders – Collier, Maggee Hobson and Jordan Freeze – to bond with their teammates even more.

“Some of my girls have just played middle school, so this will be great for them. Then the others, I feel like they’ll have more competition,” Ross said. “I just want our mindset to be right. I’ve really put a lot off on Ally, Maggee and Jordan. They’ve grown up a lot, and they still have room to grow as far as how do you lead and how you support and push your team without tearing them down at the same time. They’re getting there, and we’ve had that discussion this summer.”

Long-term keys
Earning a spot in the Class II playoffs is the goal for the Lady Chargers, but in order to do that and get past a division foe like Lake Cormorant, who won the Class II state title last year, Ross felt like it all revolved around being good on defense.

“If we’re going to be truly competitive, our defensive specialist, our libero, has got to be able to get a good pass to our targets,” Ross said. “The key is when you play these DeSoto County teams – Lewisburg, Lake Cormorant and Center Hill – and you play hitters, we’ve got to get a hand on the ball. Our blockers have to be able to slow that ball down. That’s really the key to helping out your passers. We can have amazing digs, but those amazing digs are going to be out of system and not going where you want them to go.”

Freeze will serve as Oxford’s setter. Ross has been pleased with the way she has performed in summer action against teams such as Lafayette and Tupelo. The hitters have also pleased Ross, who was still working to figure out one final spot heading to camp.

Oxford opens the season at home against South Panola on Aug. 12. All matches will be played in the new OHS gym, the first live action in the gym since the new school opened early this year.

john.davis@journalinc.com
Twitter: @oxfordcitizenjd

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Eighteen years in the business. Dedicated to providing the best local content for sports. Oxford, Lafayette, Ole Miss, youth sports, outdoors and the things nobody else wants to cover.