Prep Volleyball: Vanessa Conley and Lincoln teammates are eyeing school's first district title since 2006
Lincoln County senior Vanessa Conley said she has worked hard to become a good setter for the Patriots, who are trying to win their first district title since 2006. (Hal Morris / October 6, 2012)
“We’ve been up and down a lot,” she said. “And compared to last year, it’s a big change because we were more consistent with our wins.”
But the postseason wipes the slate clean. Now Conley and her Patriot teammates can focus on winning their first district title since 2006. Lincoln (13-14) plays Garrard County (9-17) in the 45th District semifinals at Boyle County.
“We really want to win because last year, we got it take away from us,” said Conley, referring to Lincoln’s loss to Casey County in the 45th District final. “So this year, we feel we’ve got the potential to win it.”
A win over Garrard sets up a potential title match with Boyle County, which plays Danville in the other semifinal Monday. But Conley knows the Patriots aren’t good enough to overlook the Lions, whom they beat 3-1 on Sept. 20.
“We try to focus on the team we are about to play before we play any others,” she said. “We have to make sure we are prepared to for that one.”
But Conley admits a district title would be a boost for the Patriots going into the 12th Region Tournament at Mercer County.
“It will give us a lot of confidence because it would be our first district title since coach’s (Amanda Massey-Wiles) first season,” Conley said. “So we’re really wanting it.”
If the Patriots are to get that elusive district title, Conley will play a big part in it.
Conley is the team’s setter and one of its better servers. And the senior said she has worked hard to become a good setter, which helps get the offense going.
“Last year, I shared the position with Ciara (Saylor), me and her kind of switched being the primary setter,” Conley said. “This year, I’ve been doing it more and I feel I’ve improved a lot with all that practice.”
Massey-Wiles said Conley has adjusted well to what is a difficult position.
“Setting is something that takes a long time to learn and it’s very difficult to master. It’s a lot of responsibility. So the setter is going to get a lot of touches, so its important that the setter is a good decision maker and that she can be calm under pressure and thats she has a good relationship with the hitters,” Massey-Wiles said. “And the hitters on our team are very generous girls, they have a great relationship with the setter, and I think that shows on the court.
“I think her serving has really come into play for a lot of scoring opportunities. Hers and Ciara Saylor’s serves are very difficult to stop. So it’s something that’s really helped us offensively.”
Conley said she is still working on get her quick sets perfected, and still isn’t happy with her serving.
“It hasn’t been that good lately,” she said.
But what has been good for Lincoln, Massey-Wiles said, is the leadership her seniors — Conley, Saylor, Mikki McElroy, Samantha Douglas and BreyAnna Hoover — have shown.
“These girls have really come into their own quickly,” the Lincoln coach said. “So these are girls that are very quick learner and have quick adaptability.
“This is only their fourth year, they didn’t play in middle school. “So this is something they have all had to jump up, accept their leadership role and go with it. And they’ve done a really good job.”