Spain Park Volleyball
Senior Karlee Moss is a blocker for the Jags, and coach Kellye Bowen will lean on her experience in the middle.
Spain Park volleyball is trending in the right direction.
From a 9-24 record in 2014 to a 22-23 mark in 2015, this season promises to be the best yet for Kellye Bowen and her Lady Jags in her third year at the helm.
“Last year’s team, we were very competitive, much more than the year before. Now, people are starting to notice that we’re not just a doormat, and that we’re competitive. We’re in every game,” Bowen said.
The Jags’ season ended last year at the hands of Vestavia Hills in the fifth set at the area tournament. That result has left them hungry.
“That did leave a sour taste in their mouths, so I think they’re ready to get at it. And we’re in a different area, so we’ll see how that works out,” Bowen said.
The Jags will still call Class 7A, Area 6 home, but welcome in a pair of new faces. Mountain Brook remains, while Oak Mountain and Huffman join the fray. The Spartans and Eagles will likely be strong, making the area tournament all the tougher, as only the top two teams advance.
If the Jags are to be one of those two teams, they will have to improve upon executing at the same level from beginning to end. They are so intent on it, their practice shirts read: “Finish.”
“A lot of the games, we would be up, like the last game with Vestavia. We won the first set, but we let them back in,” Bowen said.
Bowen said she senses some urgency among her group of girls, most notably the eight seniors. That, combined with the results from last year, allows optimism for 2016.
“They made a drastic improvement with the same strong schedule,” she said.
Spain Park should have no shortage of leaders, from senior setter Ellie Norton, to middle blocker Karlee Moss. On the outside, there is Marlee Johnson and Sha’Kevia Hogan. In the middle, Maddie Dease. Ali Close’s name was also mentioned as being a great leader.
Don’t discount the actual on-court talent, either.
“This year will probably be the best team I’ve had, ability-wise,” Bowen said. “It should be very good for them, especially since we were in some competitive tournaments and some hard games (last year).”
The mark of a growing program is the ability to win routinely, and to occasionally sneak up on a better team and notch a win. As the Jags progress, there will be more expected of them, but they are not shying away.
“We never go away,” Bowen said. “We got some wins last year that people didn’t think we’d win. The heartbreaker was the end of the year, and I think that’s really motivation for them this upcoming year.”
In 2016, Spain Park volleyball aims to get the record above the .500 mark. It came close last year, with an impressive 13-win increase from 2014. Anything close to that this year, and the Jags will find themselves at the Birmingham CrossPlex, squarely in the mix at the state tournament.
“It should be very interesting how this year works out,” Bowen said. “This is a great group of kids, and they all get along for the most part. I think they’re ready to work. I think they’re ready to start a program that’s winning.”