Head coach Rick Erickson hopes that translates into wins for his Lady Wildcats in 2005.
“We’ve got a chance to have the best team we’ve ever had here. We’re still young, but we return a lot,” said Erickson, who has a 24-32 record in two seasons at TCHS.
The Lady Wildcats return four starters from last year’s 11-19 team that finished as district runner-up and advanced to the region tournament for the second straight year.
Outside hitters Cayla Hampton (junior) and Stacy Schoneman (junior) return as do middle player Kalesha Williams (sophomore), and setter Casey Banister (freshman).
“Everyone is playing a new position this year except for Casey,” Erickson noted.
Mary Wallace, the lone senior on the squad, will likely start on the right side, and freshman Molly Thompson will also start in the middle.
“Molly has a great attitude and is a hard worker, while Casey has matured as a setter,” Erickson said.
With the experience returning, Erickson said the Lady Wildcats would be more of an offensive team this year.
“We will use a 5-1 offense, with five people attacking and one person setting the ball like we did two years ago,” Erickson said. “We’re going to be more aggressive and want to be more of an attacking team this year. We want to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes at the net and send it back at them at 50 miles-per hour.”
Hampton, who led the team in kills last year, and Williams, Trigg’s top returning server, also give Trigg some height at the net.
“Cayla has taken over our leadership role and is hitting the ball better this year,” Erickson said.
The Lady Wildcats will also utilize a new player called a libero, the result of a new rule change.
The libero is a back-row player and is not allowed to complete an attack from anywhere if the ball, at the moment of contact, is entirely above the height of the net.
The libero wears a uniform in contrast to other members of the team, and is intended to be a player who specializes in defense and serve reception.
The libero may replace a back-row player, except the person serving, without taking away from the team's allowed number of 18 substitutions. Only one libero may be designated per game.
Erickson said freshman Brittany Futrell and eighth grader Kiesha Stewart will see time at the position when it is utilized.
The libero player has been used at the international, collegiate and club levels for a number of years, and, this past year, ten states experimented with its use at the high school level.
Despite the experience returning, Erickson said depth would be a problem for the Lady Wildcats.
“We’ll have three freshmen and an eighth grader coming off the bench. By the end of the season, I hope to have 3-4 J.V. players coming off the bench,” he said.
Communication between teammates has also been an area stressed by Erickson in the preseason.
“That may just be an issue of maturity and hopefully we’ll get past that as the season goes on,” he said.
When it comes to the district, the postseason takes on an added advantage for Trigg County this year.
Trigg County will play host to the district tournament, and possibly the region tournament if Trigg wins their first district title.
“It’s still Caldwell’s district until someone beats them,” Erickson said.
The district tournament will also be seeded with the addition of Livingston Central to the district that also includes Crittenden County.
Only the first game played between the schools will count toward the seeding.
Trigg County’s schedule is the toughest the program has ever assembled, with the Lady Wildcats slated to play in tournaments at Apollo and Elizabethtown as well as hosting their own Slamfest Tournament in September.