Lady Bobcats loaded with talent, Whetham says
By Scott Loftis
It’s fair to say that Berryville volleyball coach Kristin Whetham has a good feeling going into the 2019 season.
The Lady Bobcats’ roster is loaded with talented athletes, but Whetham is most excited about their versatility.
“I have a lot of options,” Whetham said Thursday. “I’m really enjoying that aspect of it. I think this year we have a lot of different ways we can play. I have so many girls that can play so many positions. I’m fortunate this year.”
Four starters return from a team that finished 10-7-3 in 2018 as the Lady Bobcats adjusted to a new conference, the 4A Northwest, that included the likes of Harrison and Farmington. Berryville narrowly missed the state tournament, losing a five-set heartbreaker to Farmington in the second round of the district tournament.
Senior Taylor Swofford has been especially impressive in preseason practice, Whetham said. Swofford, who finished second on the team with 143 kills last season, has spent her entire career on the outside. But she has moved to the middle this year, and Whetham said she has thrived in her new role.
“She’s really caught on and taken that position and made it her own,” Whetham said.
Other returning starters for Berryville are junior Lauren Compton, who had a team-high 57 aces last year; senior Kate Powell, who led the Lady Bobcats with 143 assists; and senior Kelsey Smith, who had a team-high 363 digs.
There’s plenty of depth behind those four, as well.
“I have a team full of athletes this year,” Whetham said.
Senior Jordan Estepp saw plenty of playing time last season. Junior Abby Thurman returns after recovering from a knee injury she sustained late in basketball season. Junior Lilli Compton is an all-around athlete, and freshman Faith Kelley has impressed Whetham in preseason workouts.
Another change that seems to be producing positive results is a different approach to practice.
“We’ve kind of switched things up in practice this year,” Whetham said. “I felt like we were getting kind of monotonous in practice, so we’re trying some new things. So far, it seems to be working pretty well.”
Whetham said she’s excited about the Lady Bobcats’ prospects, especially after a year to get adjusted to their new conference.
“Now that we realize that we can play with some of these teams, I’m excited to see what happens,” she said.
The Lady Bobcats will play a benefit match on Thursday, Aug. 22 at Rogers and will open the regular season on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Huntsville.
Berryville Lady Bobcats 2019 Volleyball Schedule
Sept. 5 — At Huntsville
Sept. 10 — Blue Eye
Sept. 12 — Gentry
Sept. 17 — Harrison
Sept. 19 — At Shiloh Christian
Sept. 23 — Ozark
Sept. 24 — Farmington
Sept. 26 — At Prairie Grove
Sept. 30 — At Green Forest
Oct. 1 — Pea Ridge
Oct. 3 — At Gravette
Oct. 5 — Neosho (Mo.) Tournament
Oct. 8 — At Harrison
Oct. 10 — Shiloh Christian
Oct. 17 — Huntsville
Oct. 21 — District Tournament at Hunstville