Lady Blazers make strides

Bryan Edwards | Kentucky New Era

University Heights Academy's Evelyn Morales strikes a ball during a team practice.

For the second-straight year, the University Heights Academy volleyball team hit the road to get a look at what their team will look like in 2019.

The Lady Blazers' attended a team camp at Western Kentucky University last week, and it gave coach Faye Hendricks an opportunity to get an early look at her team prior to the season.

"This is our second year in a row that this group of girls has gone to the Western Kentucky University team camp and it was a phenomenal experience for us," Hendricks said. "The first day they just do stations where they work on different skills -- fundamentals, team building, talk about using the weight room.

"Thursday and Friday are just play dates. It's great because we get to play against a variety of competition. Other teams from out of state that we wouldn't normally get to play against. It's a great opportunity for us to learn our rotations, be challenged by other people's offenses, work on our defense and really kind of hone in our own offense and serve receive."

While at the camp, the teams in attendance get an opportunity to work on numerous things on and off the court.

For a smaller program like UHA, these camps are even more important, as it gives the team an opportunity to get quality practice and see where they stand heading into the season.

Hendricks said the camps are big for her, as she gets to see her team go up against quality competition before the start of the season.

"The years that we've gone to camp, it's really like getting a headstart on the season," she said. "We're a small school. We don't have an enormous program where our JV can give our varsity the kind of competition they need to get better. When we go to team camp and we get to play other varsity teams that are at the top of their game, it really pushes our kids … Provided you stay healthy, they're really important to the development of the team.

"It gives us a chance to move some pieces around in a time where it doesn't matter. The score doesn't matter. No team is really trying to win team camp … You can make mistakes without fear."

The Lady Blazers had a good showing at the camp, going 20-14 in the 34 11-minute sets over a two-day period, all while also getting instruction from the WKU volleyball staff throughout the weekend.

Given the competition that attended the camp in Bowling Green, it gave Hendricks some confidence as she and her team trek toward the start of the year.

"We're going to be darn good," she said. "We have great attitudes that get along well. They really mesh. This is probably the tallest, highest jumping, most athletic team that I've had the opportunity to coach while I've been at University Heights Academy. We're in our 10th year of volleyball here, so we're still one of the younger programs in the region. I'm very, very excited to see what they do this year."

There is still one more event on UHA's schedule before the start of the season. It will play in the 2019 Bluegrass Games, starting Aug. 2.

The Lady Blazers will open the season on the road against Hopkins County Central on Aug. 19.

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