Fayetteville had nerves last year, as most teams do, playing in at the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl with multiple games going on simultaneously and talented teams at every court.
“Everybody I have this year was there last year, so it will be a little more familiar,” Fayetteville head coach Anita Simpson said. “It was a little nerve-wracking last year with not knowing and being in a big room and all the whistles and all the games. This year it’ll be a little more familiar. We’ve already talked about some of the things that we’re not used to seeing on an everyday game-basis, but we know what to expect when we get there.”
Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith said he made the wrong call to come back home after winning Friday and driving back to Montgomery Saturday.
“I wanted our kids to enjoy homecoming; I didn’t want to take that away from them,” Smith said. “But last year, we got on the road and that Saturday morning we were just dry. We didn’t play well and I fault myself for that because I hate missing opportunities. With that being said, today’s practice went extremely well. I think our kids just want to play. Based on last years’ experience, I really expect my kids to kind of give it their all especially the seniors. I just told them to have fun. We’re just trying to make history with an Elite Eight appearance that we are seeking. We’re just going to do the best that we can. I honestly feel like the girls are going to play up to the level of play. So, we emphasize strong, accurate serves and smart volleyball play.”
Smith said his senior-laden team understands what is at stake at Super-Regionals.
“The thing about Winterboro kids is that sometimes they perform well with their backs against the wall,” he said. “Being here for my sixth year, I almost know what gets our kids in a situation to perform their best. I was teasing them today about certain teams owning them before I took them over. They responded back to me ‘It ain’t about the past; it’s about the future.’ I think they want to move on. It’ll be very important for our volleyball program to really move as far as it can because we’ll be in rebuilding mode probably the next two years. So, it’s a lot of responsibility for them.”
Simpson also has a strong group of seniors.
“It’s the best group I’ve worked with,” she said. “They all stick together. I just hope they come out strong Friday.”
Smith has already done his due diligence to scout the Linden team as best as possible.
“I know they’ve got a pretty good attacker,” he said. “They have a girl that serves the ball extremely hard. That’s why I got in practice today and tried to simulate that. So, our girls are kind of used to that. They’re just excited about Friday.”
Fayetteville has worked on correcting mistakes and cleaning up errors this week in practice.
“We’ve focused on a lot of our mental strategies, lots of ball placements, lots of receiving,” Simpson said. “We had several receiving errors and serving errors the other night. We’ve spent a great deal of time working on those this week and some team-building foundations, working as a team.”
Both coaches extended their appreciation to their fans.
“I want to really thank our fans that came to the area championship game,” Smith said. “They fueled us so well that our kids rode on that momentum for the area championship game. That really helped us out because Fayetteville is a well-coached team. Fayetteville, they’re going to do what they’re going to do and that was the extra help we needed to get over that hump. I also wish Fayetteville luck tomorrow. We’re going to try to check them out.”
Both teams play on court two of the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
Fayetteville plays Akron at 10:15 a.m.
Winterboro plays Linden at 12:45 p.m.