The school decided to have volleyball after the Cleveland School District decided to cut slow pitch softball from the curriculum in July of 2011. Volleyball gave CHS that extra program for girls in place of slow pitch softball.
Head coach Jenny McCullough has had a good turnout for the sport in its inaugural season as 18 girls are currently on the team.
McCullough said the girls have properly educated themselves on the game.
“They’ve been doing really well,” McCullough said. “We had some players go to camp. We’ve done a lot of reading and learning from different coaches in the Jackson area and up in Desoto County where they play a lot of volleyball. We’re excited about the progress we’ve made so far. They’re learning a lot of fundamental skills and doing a lot of drills on the skills in order to improve.”
McCullough has also been pleased with the mindset they’ve carried into practice.
“They have had a great attitude and a good work ethic,” McCullough said. “They’re enthusiastic and really wanting to get better. They’ve come a long way in a short amount of time.”
According to McCullough, many of the girls on the team are familiar with athletics, as they’ve participated in virtually every sport for girls CHS has had to offer.
McCullough said the biggest thing about volleyball is it gives girls another opportunity to compete in collegiate athletics.
“Volleyball is a sport that offers scholarships in college,” McCullough said. “That’s the main reason we wanted to begin volleyball, because it gives them an opportunity to play at the next level and help pay for their college education.”
Cleveland will be competing in Class 1, District 3 with Velma Jackson, Williams-Sullivan, Yazoo City, Yazoo County and Greenwood.
Many teams that are in their first year of competition tend to struggle. McCullough, however, said that the team fully expects to compete with anybody it plays.
“We fully expect to win,” McCullough said. “Out of the six teams in our region, we’re one of three that are starting a new program this year. They take the top three to go into the playoffs. All we got to do is just try to be competitive, do what we need to do and give our best effort every single play. I think we can be very competitive in our region.”
McCullough’s assistant coaches on the squad Johnna Harris and Caleb Van Tassel. Team members are: McKinnion Skeen (Sr.), Katherine Jackson (Sr.), Lauren Ashley Collins (Jr.), Kasey Causey (Jr.), Marybeth Summers (Jr.), Sara Estridge (Jr.), Shatara Hall (Jr.), Nathalie Del Castillo (Jr.), Elizabeth Kulick (So.), Ashley Braden Horton (So.), Sydney Watridge (So.), Katelyn Thompson (So.), Samantha Collins (So.), Braxton Clark (So.), Molly Jackson (So.), Devan Bastari (Fr.), Katie Taylor (Fr.) and Megan Gant (Fr.).