Elizabethton, Johnson Co. rehearse for season play

  By Rebecca Pierson
  Asst. Sports Editor
  rpierson@starhq.com
  KINGSPORT -- The Lady Cyclones and the Lady Longhorns gave the fans and area media a preview Tuesday night at the Buck Van Huss Dome at Dobyns-Bennett High School.
  The Lady Cyclones played in the first four sets of the jamboree against some of the areas top teams. Science Hill, Sullivan East, Tennessee High and Daniel Boone all came out on top, but it showed the Lady Cyclones the things the team needs to work on for the upcoming season.
  "This is a rebuilding year," 'Betsy head coach Leslee Bradley said. "We have a roster of 24 players to fill out freshman through varsity teams, and 13 of those are first-year players. Even with that hurdle in our way, I feel that this is the most athletic team I have ever had."
  The Lady Cyclones' biggest challenge may be that they are a very young team, as assistant coach Donna Townsend pointed out. The team only has two seniors on the roster, and only two players with three years experience. Ashley Cline is the squad's only returning starter.
  In the first match-up, the Lady Hilltoppers came out with a combined 40-20 victory. Michaela Pietrowski had two aces in the first match and Amanda Ward had seven assists in the first and served two aces in the second.
  In the second matchup, vs. Sullivan East, the Lady Cyclones had their closest battle but lost 38-34. Katrina Moore had four assists in the first and two attacks in the second, and Cline had three aces.
  The Lady Vikings dropped the Lady Cyclones 36-19. Heather Simpson had six assists and Pietrowski and Ward both had two aces.
  The Lady Trailblazer got a 36-15 victory after the Lady Cyclones were spent. Ward had four solid serves and Pietrowski had four attacks. Cline had three attacks and cleanly received five serves. Arielle Warner also had three digs in the match.
  "It will take us awhile to get used to playing the game and get used to our teammates, but I expect us to be a good team by the district tournament," Bradley said. "They are working hard every day to improve."
  "When we first got started, we had a real problem talking to each other," said Warner, who is one of the two seniors. "Even though we are only two weeks into the season, we are doing very well. I think we are doing pretty good considering we lost all of those seniors last year. Cayla McKinney, who is a freshman, has already made it to the varsity team and she is really great. I think it showed us that we can have really good season this year."
  The Lady Longhorns had a better evening even though four of the nine varsity players were in a doctor's office earlier in the day for a stomach flu.
  In their first match-up, against host Dobyns-Bennett, the Indians dropped the Longhorns 27-26.
  Junior Sarah Wright almost pushed her team into the winning side with five consecutive aces in a 10 consecutive serving spree. Ryann Tillman showed that she wasn't afraid to eat the court with multiple diving attempts throughout the night.
  In the Lady 'Horns' second game, the Lady Pioneers of David Crockett got a mouth full of aces in a 35-15 loss. Amy Shutt totalled eight aces and Alysa Billings and Laura Peters both had two aces.
  The Sullivan South Lady Rebels also defeated Johnson County, 31-16. Tillman had two good solid attacks in the game, but their energy was spent. Ashley Howard got under for a dig and Katie Nelson had an attack and a block in the game.
  "Their communication is sometimes there and sometimes not," said Johnson County head coach Michele Cooke. "Right now most of them are sick. It is not an excuse and it is not a reason, but that is the way it is."