The Lady Panthers went 22-18 and advanced to the regional tournament at Gaston, but this season, Carroll will have a much younger squad after losing five seniors.
He’s focused on making the Lady Panthers a more defensive team and running several designed plays in hopes of taking things a step further in 2012.
“I’ve never really run plays per se because I really didn’t know a lot about them,” Carroll said. “I’ve really been watching a lot of volleyball, studying the game, trying to learn some things myself and put in some of those quick hits. I’m really trying to read books, find some drills, watch people play, and tell them to watch people play so we can get the instincts we need.”
Most of what the Lady Panthers lost from last season was in the front row. Carroll will line up freshman Madison Sides and junior Maddy Micha at the outside hitter positions. Micha played back row for the Lady Panthers last season.
Middle hitters consist of juniors Haley Motes and Dallas Smith. Junior Kaylee Cronan and sophomore Emory Reedy are expected to line up on the right side, as well as be secondary setters behind junior Darby Bryant.
Lone senior Jacqueline Haney and sophomores Darian Gaines and McKenzie Micha will specialize in defense.
“This is a very good group this year,” Carroll said, noting he’s coached this group of Lady Panthers in junior high basketball and volleyball. “We’re going to be young, but I think we’ve got some talent. They’ve been really good in junior high. They’ve had a lot of workouts in June and July. We started the second week in July with open gym with everybody together working on basic drills. We’ve started putting rotations in and moving forward with quick plays and quick hits. We’re going to see how that goes.”
Carroll also boosted the Lady Panthers’ schedule this season. In addition to Class 1A, Area 13 rivals Cedar Bluff, Collinsville and Gaylesville, Carroll also has several higher classification teams and tournaments on the slate.
The Lady Panthers open on Aug. 23 at Class 2A Gaston in a tri-match with Sardis. Two days later, they compete in one of the premier tournaments in the state at Albertville then play in a tri-match with Ashville at Class 4A Cherokee County.
Other teams on the schedule include a tri-match with Anniston at Class 1A defending state champion Donoho on Sept. 6, a tri-match with Albertville at Class 6A Gadsden City on Sept. 20, the Cherokee County Tournament on Sept. 29, and the White Plains Tournament on Oct. 13.
And that’s all before the area tournament (Oct. 18-20) and the new super-regional tournament in Huntsville (Oct. 26-27).
“I’m not trying to sugar coat anything. We’ve got a tough schedule,” Carroll said. “I don’t want to go 28-5 and lose in the area tournament. That means nothing to me. If we can compete in higher classifications, there’s no reason why we can’t compete in 1A ball. I guess I learned that in basketball. You always play better to get better, and that’s what I’m trying to do. They’ve been very receptive to that.
“Nobody’s going to remember your record. They’re going to remember if you made the area tournament, if you went to the super regionals and if you made the Elite Eight.”