The young New Brockton Lady Gamecocks volleyball team opened up the first week of play last week and got off to a tough start.

The Lady Gamecocks started off the season on Aug. 22 with a 3-0 loss to Kinston on the road and then returned to Kinston on Aug. 24 to take part in the Amelia Rhoades Set-Off Tournament.

New Brockton was eliminated in pool play in that tournament after earning a 2-0 win over Zion Chapel and then falling 2-0 to both Kinston and Geneva.

“We played better,” New Brockton coach Jennifer Graham said of the tournament. “We’re really young but I’m okay with young, because it’s so fun to watch the process of them getting better each week.

“It’s tough because knowledge is power and when you have a lot of kids that haven’t been playing for as long as other players it makes it tough to catch up. We’re getting there, though.”

Graham said the Lady Gamecocks are making adjustments each week and seeing the improvements, as well.

“We’re moving around the lineup all the time and we’ll continue to do that and see who can do what, where,” Graham said. “Kids are continuing to get better at practice and more of them will be able to step into more roles for us in the future.”

Senior Mary Beth Smith led the way in the tournament with 13 aces and 17 kills in three games.

The Lady Gamecocks then hit the road once again on Aug. 27 to face off against the always dangerous G.W. Long Lady Rebels.

Long was able to win all three sets 25-13, 25-8 and 25-10, but New Brockton held an early lead in the first set and Graham still continued to see improvement in her team.

“Long is an outstanding team but we came out and were winning early and were outsmarting them and hitting our spots,” Graham said. “Against a team like that when you don’t have a bunch of 6-foot hitters, that’s what you have to do.

“You have to make them move and make them play the ball. We were doing really well and scoring. I was pleased because that’s what you have to do when learning volleyball, too. You have to learn to find a team’s weak spot and we were doing that against a great team.”

Smith again led New Brockton with seven kills, while fellow senior Paula McKenna had eight assists.

The Lady Gamecocks get a little bit of a break before hosting their first home game on Sept. 10 in a rematch with G.W. Long at 4 p.m.

“We’re going to keep working on our X’s and O’s, transition defense and just start to see more stuff on the court,” Graham said. “Regardless of the score we’re getting better and that’s all I can ask for.”

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