Southside’s new season begins

Published 11:15 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SELMA — The high school volleyball season opens today for four local teams. For the Southside Panthers, today’s 4:30 p.m. opener at home against Jeff Davis couldn’t have come sooner.

Selma’s girls go to Uniontown for a 4:30 p.m. match against R.C. Hatch; Meadowview goes to Hooper to play Hooper and Southern beginning at 3:30 pm.; and Morgan Academy opens its home season at 3:30 p.m. with junior varsity action against Lee-Scott.

April O’Neal, who also coaches softball at Southside, said she is excited about restarting the Panthers’ volleyball team.

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“A volleyball program has not been at Southside High School for a while now,” she said, “but now it is back and it will open oppurtunities for the young ladies.

“The ladies have been in training camps all summer to better their skills and their knowledge of the game.”

O’Neal had hoped to start the program last year.

“My first year here was last year, and I came here too late to start the volleyball team,” she said. “Toward the end of the school year, I posted a signup sheet and we had a good response.”

During the summer, the players worked to buy uniforms and equipment.

“The girls have had a hard job getting all the uniforms and equipment with raising funds in this economy,” she said. “Everything we have for the team is what they worked for.”

All but two of O’Neal’s players also play softball or basketball.

O’Neal was player of the year at the now-closed Taylor Road Academy in Montgomery. At Alabama Statey, she played softball.

Despite the first-year jitters associated with restarting the Southside program, O’Neal isn’t shying away from the competition.

“The way they worked this summer, I feel like we can compete against the teams on our schedule,” she said. “Of course, some teams will be more established and have veteran players.

“But just because it’s a new program, I’m not going to lower my expectations.”