Team Looking For Improved Results in 2022
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
The Lady Cat volleyball team started the 2022 season with a win last night in a three-set sweep on the road against the Muhlenberg County Lady Mustangs.
Expectations are up this year for the Lady Cats as the team is led by a large group of seniors, most of which have been teammates since their 7th grade year. Edmonson County volleyball has not seen a winning season since 2017 when they won the District 12 Championship. Since then, they have yet to notch double digits in the win column during a season and their best year during that period was 2020--the COVID year--when they finished 9-9.
New Head Coach Caitlin Caudill may not have years of experience under her belt as a head coach, but neither has any other previous volleyball coach at ECHS during the past decade. However, what Caudill has is the experience of a winner. She holds multiple records as a former Lady Cat basketball star--most notably in scoring. She finished her high school career as the all-time leading scorer in girls' basketball at ECHS with 2,564 points. Not only basketball, but she also excelled in softball and volleyball, and played under respected and successful coaches like Mike McClintic and Kevin Jackson.
During her senior year, (2017) she was a teammate to those on this year's senior squad when they were starting as 7th graders. She began relationships then that now seem much more meaningful. She was thrown to the wolves last year when she was named interim head coach after the head coach and assistant coaches resigned mid-season. With the help of ECHS Principal Jonathan Williams and ECHS Athletic Director Brad Johnson, she got the team through the remainder of the season, going winless in their final 8 games. While she didn't earn anything officially in the W column, she had earned the respect of her players, parents, and school.
For the first time in her professional coaching career, she officially has a winning record of 1-0 and it's something she plans to build as the season progresses, and build it on a team-based atmosphere.
"This team plays as one," she said. "We are a big family and that is what I have pushed so hard for all preseason is to be one unit and one family. We always cheer each other on when we do something good and we always pick each other up if we make a mistake."
With their 6 preseason games and certainly last night, fans could see a contrast in the way some things were done. Digs, movement, communication, execution, and the rapport the girls had with each other were all noticed. One of the biggest contrasts from the last couple seasons was Edmonson's composure when Muhlenberg began to put together runs. It was by far the biggest factor in the Lady Cats' doom in the past several seasons. If they got down 5-6 points or more, you could mark it down...things were headed south, but last night the girls fought through several runs from the Lady Mustangs, showing maturity and resilience that many would say is at least a partial result of a different culture on the court and in the locker room from the coaching staff.
New assistant coach Christine Barrett, a former Division I college volleyball player, has also earned the respect from Lady Cat players, and the combination of Caudill, Barrett, and Kaytlin Hyde, another teammate of Caudill's and some of this year's seniors, seems to have improved the morale of the team as a whole.
Edmonson County held off runs from the Lady Mustangs in all three sets last night, winning the first set 25-19, the second 25-20, and the final set 25-22. This was also accomplished without a senior starter, Raven Cast, who was out for illness.
Senior Kaylee Lindsey finished the game with 9 kills, 6 blocks, and 13 digs. Senior Whitney Davis had 4 kills and 17 digs, and senior Alyssa Doyle had 4 kills, 4 blocks, 12 digs, and one ace. Junior Madison Bullock led the team in assists with 9 and junior Alivia Mabery finished with 8.
"I am so proud of the way my girls played last night," said Coach Caudill. "I told them in the locker room before the game that this is the moment they have been working for since February, go out there play your game and give me 110% and we will walk away satisfied with the results. That is what happened and I could not be more proud. My seniors came out strong and ready, and led the rest of the team to our first win of the season."
ECHS should find themselves in a good spot to be competitive for another district title, barring injuries or other unforeseen circumstances, but Coach Caudill said there's more to volleyball than the win and loss column.
"My main objective is greater than volleyball, it’s to teach these girls to keep their fighting spirit and to never give up even when things aren’t going your way."
It's obviously very early and no one knows what the season holds, but 1-0 is a positive start.
Edmonson County will travel to Hart County tonight for JV/V match beginning at 5:30PM.
ECHS boys soccer fell last night to Barren County 10-0 and is currently 0-3 on the season. ECHS girls soccer is 0-2 so far on the season. ECHS golf and cross country are also underway and Wildcat Football is scheduled to officially begin this Friday at Grayson County at 7PM.