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Camps help Southside volleyball

SELMA — Africa Tyler visited three Alabama universities learning about volleyball and is ready to bring that knowledge back to her Southside High School teammates.

Tyler joined the team in a camp at Alabama-Birmingham, but attended individual camps at Troy University and the University of Alabama.

“It’s going to improve my game and make my team better,” Tyler said. “It helped with all the fundamentals of volleyball.”

Tyler, who also plays softball and basketball, said she learned mostly from watching other players who have more experience in the game.

“They had good footwork, and were always talking,” Tyler said. “They know where to go at all times and they always stayed down. You didn’t see anybody standing straight up.”

The Panthers have only been playing volleyball for two years and assistant coach Wanda Tyler, who is also Africa’s mother, said coaches at the UAB camp were impressed by how far along the program is.

“We played 10 games, and we didn’t win anything, but everybody said they enjoyed watching us play,” Wanda Tyler said. “Our girls weren’t intimidated, and they are committed. They sold out to what we’ve been trying to teach them.”

Wanda Tyler said giving the players a chance to learn by observation was the biggest benefit.

“They saw that they haven’t arrived,” Wanda Tyler said. “Africa has not arrived. Coach (April) O’Neal and I have been telling them what to do, but now they saw somebody else do it right, so that was a big plus.”

Africa Tyler won most improved and most vocal and the Alabama camp, where she said they stressed the importance of communication.

“Communication and movement was what they emphasized,” Africa Tyler said. “I saw that we have a lot to work on.”

Africa Tyler said she plans to remind her teammates in practice what they learned at the camp and what she learned individually, and she hopes the Panthers can only get better.