MPHS’s lady panthers train for fall

The lady panthers are gearing up for the start of the fall 2016 season with evening practices in the MPHS gym. Here Head Coach Kate Lapham (foreground) works closely with the young ladies as they prepare for their first match this Saturday, August 27.
Lance Maggart / Sky-Hi News |

Tomorrow, Saturday August 27, the Middle Park High School Volleyball Team will take to the court for their first matches of the 2016 fall season.

Guiding the lady panthers again this year is head coach Kate Lapham. Lapham will helm a team of 24 players, somewhat reduced from previous years, as the panther girls look to accomplish great things.

This year’s action gets right under way for the panthers. When the young ladies take the court Saturday afternoon in Granby they will be facing off against Faith Christian, one of the top 3A schools in the state. “That will be a really tough challenge as we have never played them before,” said Coach Lapham. “We know they are good but we don’t know what to expect.”

The first matches of the season for the panthers will begin at noon on Saturday with a C-Team set before the Junior Varsity takes the court at 1 p.m. Varsity action is scheduled to begin, with a best of five set, against Faith Christian around 2 p.m. All matches will be held at Middle Park High School.

Coach Lapham has high hopes for the panthers this year as she looks ahead to the coming season. She says she believes the girls have a strong chance of securing a berth in the State Tournament and is confident in the senior leadership on the team.

“We are looking pretty good,” Lapham said. “We have a lot of senior leadership; half our varsity team is seniors, and we have a really strong junior class. We lost two starters from last year who moved but we have had young players step in and step up. Our team has really worked hard and put in a lot of effort over the summer to fill the void left by the two starters.”

Lapham continued, explaining she believes the panthers are poised to be very competitive this year and, “if all goes well, we hope to make it to the State Tournament.”

Along with the loss of two starters the panthers will be somewhat challenged in the height department this season. “We are not a very tall team in regards to volleyball,” Lapham said. “We have worked hard on verticals over the summer. We are trying to improve our defense because we don’t have tall blockers up front.”

But what the panthers lack in pure height they are making up for with raw experience. “I have said over and over again, ‘we are a young team’. Now we are not,” Lapham said. “The core of the team has played together for three seasons. They have improved on all facets of their game. They are a really strong, developed and well rounded team.”

This year’s varsity team, with 12 players in total, is lead by a group of six returning senior girls. The panther’s junior varsity team also consists of 12 players, including three freshmen ladies who have decided to join. The panthers will also field a C-Team for the 2016 season.

The young ladies began practicing last Monday, August 15, with a series of team try-outs. Since then the girls have been working to get into competitive shape with two-a-day practices. The intense training regimen continued through most of this week. Coach Lapham said she planned to end two-a-days early though to, “make sure the girls aren’t overly sore or tired for the game.”

This year the MPHS ladies have 23 matches scheduled, including league tournament play. Along with their upcoming contest against Faith Christian Coach Lapham says she is looking forward to playing regional rivals West Grand later this fall.

“We always look forward to West Grand,” Lapham said. “They beat us the last two years. The girls are really pumped up to play West Grand this year and are hoping to get some redemption.”

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