Harlan and Harlan County volleyball previews

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

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By John Henson 

Contributing Sports Writer

Senior-dominated Harlan squad accepting ‘no excuses’ going into 2023 season

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Working to break a string of losing seasons, the Harlan Lady Dragons will be counting on a senior-dominated squad this fall to turn the program around.

Seniors Kendyll Blanton, Mallory McNiel, Tess Bryson and Taylor Hall are all probable starters for the Lady Dragons.

“They all bring energy and encouragement to the team ready to finish their senior year strong,” said Harlan coach Shawna Cox.

The Lady Dragons finished 8-14 last season and fell in the first round of the 52nd District Tournament for the third straight year. Harlan lost Marissa Marlowe and Campbell Nunez to graduation and three other key players didn’t return. Senior Emma Owens and juniors Ella Farley and Carley Thomas aren’t playing, which means the Lady Dragons lost four of their top six players and five of their top nine from last season.

But even with all the changes, Cox likes how the team is coming together in the preseason.

“The strength of the team is each individual player. Everyone is moving together to have a successful season,” Cox said. “We have a lot of younger players in this upcoming season, and I’m hoping they will learn from their fellow teammates this year to continue to have more successful seasons.”

For the full story visit our friends at Harlan County Sports.

Coming off first district title in eight years, surging Lady Bears looking for a repeat

It’s been a long time since the anticipation surrounding the Harlan County volleyball program matched the feeling heading into the 2023 season. Harlan County is coming off its first 52nd District title since 2014 and brings back the core of the squad that swept past Middlesboro in three sets and then edged defending champ Bell County in a five-set thriller.

“We worked really hard last year and were able to finish strong after having what we thought was a rather successful season,” said Harlan County coach Christina York Jones. “We played a tough schedule, and we were able to compete in a lot of games that people didn’t give us much chance to win. This year I look for us to do big things. “

The Lady Bears lost four players to graduation but return several who played significant roles in last year’s run, including seniors Destiny Cornett and Lesleigh Brown.

“We have a lot of experience returning as well as two senior leaders. I think we are going to be a hard team to handle as long as we keep up the momentum that we finished last season with,” Jones said. “I tell my girls we are a team, and we can only do this together. We have the players to succeed. It just comes down to getting the little things right and having a short-term memory.”

For the full story visit our friends at Harlan County Sports.