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pressbox1.com - Camden volleyball team's story just got crazier
Date: Monday, October 16 2017
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Camden volleyball team's story just got crazier

Two and a half years ago, there was no such thing as Camden Central High School volleyball.

The concept of another varsity sport at CHS was just a notion dancing between Stephen Vick's ears. He approached the school board about adding volleyball to the roster of Camden sports, it was apparent that he had a plan, even though, at the time of his presentaton to the board, there were zero girls walking the halls at CHS with volleyball experience.

Vick had been coaching volleyball at Camden United Christian Academy and had success there. He had four eighth graders who were pretty good. When the school board gave Vick the okay to start a team at CHS, those four eighth graders, essentially, were the only girls he had with any volleyball experience.

He said the first few weeks of practice were interesting. Vick was more teacher than coach, but the girls caught on pretty quickly. As the season went on, the Lady Lions started to win matches. Pretty soon, this team of upstarts found itself, in one rating service, ranked No. 1 in the state just weeks after the team's inception.

That's UNHEARD of.

Those Lady Lions cruised to the district title, the regional finals and a substate berth just a few months after the team's creation! The Lady Lions fell short at substate, but they had served notice that you dismiss this bunch at your peril.

In 2016, Camden's volleyball team was no longer a secret. It would face everybody's A-game. Maybe, a year earlier, teams relaxed, thinking this first-year program would be a cellar-dweller and a sure "W" on the schedule.

During Year 2, the secret was out. Still, the Lady Lions cruised to the district and regional finals and another substate bid at Nashville-Hume Fogg. Camden fell short again, but you got the idea that the more this team kept plugging away, the closer it would get to breaking through...and only a year and a half after getting the green light.

This year's team got off to a dubious start and started feeling the pressure a bit at the beginning of the season. But as tennis phenom Serena Williams likes to say, pressure is a privilege. These girls were feeling the heat for a reason. Their expectations were justifiably high.

Once these girls refocused and realized there wasn't any difference between the prior two seasons and the 2017 campaign (only the bar had been raised), they resumed their search-and-destroy mission.

Last Thursday night, at Hume Fogg, the Lady Lions extended their season by two more games when they won in the substate round and punched their ticket to Murfreesboro and the state tournament. They are one of eight Class AA teams in the draw and open with Dyersburg. It's a double-elimination event, so there is a bit of latitude.

But this team is ready to take that next step. The draw is tough, but they won't face anyone any better than they've faced in some of those mid-season tournaments. For a first-time visit to state, there are a lot of unknowns, accompanied by a good bit of nerves. So, if this team struggles this week, that's understandable.

But don't be surprised if this team brings home some hardware this year. It didn't take long to get to this point and it may be even sooner before they hang a volleyball crown on the Camden hat rack.

Now, that would REALLY be unheard of!

Jim Steele is editor of pressbox1.com, a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and host of The Pressbox, which airs from 4-6 p.m. CT Monday-Thursday on WRJB 95.9 FM.

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