Alcovy volleyball ready to move on

COVINGTON - The Alcovy Lady Tigers are ready to put the last two years behind them and start fresh as they enter a new area with a new coach.

The Lady Tigers have a new attitude and are ready to forget the 6-77 record they had their first two years.

"The tone in the gym has been different already. I run a very tight ship, so to speak," Alcovy head coach Amanda Briggs said. "Between my volleyball drills and (coach Michelle Finley's) physical fitness training, there's no time for silliness in the gym. That's really made a difference."

The girls spent their summer workouts learning the basics and lifting weights while also attending various camps.

Although there was some resistance to pumping iron at first, once they started seeing results there was less complaining.

"Now that we've done it, a lot of the girls have said that they've seen a difference," Briggs said. "You can tell in the serving alone that there's more strength out there. We're running, we're lifting, we're doing everything. Physical fitness is everything."

The Lady Tigers are going to have a new look on offense and defense.

Briggs is simplifying the defense in order to give them better backcourt coverage. She is hoping that the new defense will make the team more successful in returning serves.

Offensively, they plan to run a two-setter system.

"I changed the defense to give more court coverage for receivers. I'm hoping that helps. I'm also going to run two setters this year. If they run into each other, I'll change it back," she said. "But we're going to give it a shot. They're smart enough to figure it out. They haven't knocked each other out yet."

The setter duties will be shared by Ebony Patrick, Megan Watson, both seniors, and junior Ashley Jacobson.

Another issue Briggs had to address early on dealt with leadership.

Last season as Alcovy's JV coach, Briggs noticed that the varsity did not have anyone that was willing to jump out and take charge on the court.

Now, she has a couple of players becoming a bit more assertive.

"Ebony Patrick is the most positive person in the world, and she backs it up with her willingness to do," Briggs said. "She gives it all she's got and encourages her teammates to do the best. We have a couple of the young girls coming up, too.

"I tried to explain that mistakes are OK, as long as it's part of the learning process. That has helped them put themselves out there a little bit more."

Although Watson and Jacobson are their best servers, the Lady Tigers do not have a shortage of talent on the line. While the team had problems getting the ball over the net last season, they've already changed that to have more than 70 percent of the serves find the other side of the court.

"Barring from any mental breakdown in the game, we should be OK with our serve. I'm feeling pretty good about that," Briggs said.

Joining Patrick, Watson and Jacobson on the varsity court are seniors Lacy Ivey, Courtney Keaton, Aden Legesse and Molly Rice, juniors Leah Anderson and Holly Oakes, and sophomore Ashley Grant.

"I told them that we're going to work hard," Briggs said. "I don't like to lose. It's fine if you gave it all you've got, but you don't always see Alcovy give it all they got.

"As for goals, the only one they really have is to improve from last season."

However, Briggs sees improvement as more than wins and losses.

As long as the team can walk off the court knowing they did the best they could and left it all on the court, then there's nothing to be ashamed of, even if they don't win.

"We're just looking to improve on last year," Briggs said. "Are we serving better? Are we working as a team? Are we being aggressive on the court? Did we give up? If we're handling those things, I think we'll be successful.

"If we look at the small details and play our best game, I think we'll find we'll get some wins just by doing that. I don't want it to be we have to win. I want to be together as a team, being where we're supposed to be and do our job, and the rest will do their own thing."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.

COVINGTON - First-year Alcovy volleyball head coach Amanda Briggs has a lot of work ahead of her as she tries to turn a team that went 6-77 in their first two seasons into winners in her first venture as a head coach.

Briggs, who has only been involved with volleyball for four years, is taking over a program that went winless in their first season and 6-32 last year.

Before taking over a program that won less than 10 percent of its games in the past two years, Briggs coached Alcovy's JV squad.

Prior to that, she was under the tutelage of Heritage's David Buddenbaum and Dawn Werner.

"Everything I learned about volleyball came from the two of them," Briggs said. "I had no knowledge prior to that. I did not play in high school, not beyond the gym. It was more complicated then I realized. A lot of people just think it's the rotation. They don't realize it's positions and stuff.

"I learned everything from them. I walked in not knowing defense, offense, positions. I started from scratch. Dawn spent a lot of time with me in my first year. She went to games with me, and in the beginning of my second year, it was like a refresher course."

In the three years she was at Heritage, the varsity qualified for state twice with many of the players she coached at the JV level.

When Briggs found out she got the Alcovy head coaching position, she was a little unsure about her readiness. It was Buddenbaum who let her know she was ready to take the challenge.

When she asked Buddenbaum what was the difference between varsity and junior varsity, his response was that the varsity moves a little faster.

"They've been very supportive now that I've taken this job," Briggs said. "They've shown a lot of confidence in my ability when I was asking if I was getting in over my head. Having someone else show confidence sometimes gives it to you."

SideBar: At a glance

Who: Alcovy Lady Tigers volleyball

Head coach: Amanda Briggs (first year)

Last year's record: 6-32

Key returning players: Lacy Ivey, Ebony Patrick, Megan Watson and Ashley Jacobson

First match: Aug. 19 at Morgan County with Winder-Barrow and Salem