Pelham volleyball off to a good start

Published 2:46 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Concern surrounded the Pelham High School volleyball team during the offseason, as the Panthers prepared to replace Division I signees Whitney Billings and Whitney Hudson.

It turned out to be all for naught, as a group of six seniors, including setter Lindsey Young and hitter Ally Slaughter, have kept the Panthers at a championship level.

Pelham improved to 8-1 Aug. 27 with a 25-9, 25-20, 25-17 win over Spain Park. Young, a Southeastern Louisiana verbal commitment, led the way with 32 assists and Slaughter had 12 kills.

Slaughter, who has scholarship offers from UAB, Southern Miss, Butler, Kennesaw State, James Madison and West Florida, said the seniors remain hungry after falling to Bob Jones in the Class 6A championship game last year.

“I think we can go a long way if we have leadership and work hard in practice,” Slaughter said. “We do have the potential to be better than last year’s team.”

The Panthers also defeated Briarwood Christian and Mountain Brook last week.

Slaughter led the Panthers with 13 kills in the win over Briarwood. Toni Wellborn had eight kills against Mountain Brook.

The Panthers have defeated defending Class 5A champion St. Paul’s twice and advanced to the semifinals of the Juanita Boddie tournament, which makes Slaughter’s assessment of the team a little scary for opponents.

Slaughter, who leads the team with 104 kills and 17 aces through the first nine matches, said she believes Pelham will be better in October than it is right now.

“We have a lot of inexperience and a lot of young girls,” Slaughter said. “We’re trying to make them feel comfortable.”

Toni Wellborn has 75 kills this season. Young leads the team with 212 assists in the first two weeks of the season.

Young made her college commitment to Southeastern Louisiana in April.

Slaughter said she will likely wait until November to make a decision so she can visit more schools.