Funny things are happening for the Lakeside volleyball team as it begins the 2005 season.
Kim Newman (from left), Amy Burress and Carol Skenes are members of Lakeside's volleyball squad.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The team's three leaders, Kim Newman, Carol Skenes, and Amy Burress, can't help but laugh when they get together. They certainly have plenty to smile about.
The Lady Panthers are 2-0 in 2-AAAA Region play this year with wins over Baldwin and Effingham County. In Lakeside's first seven matches, the Lady Panthers already have earned six wins.
For most high school athletes, such winning is serious business. For the Lady Panthers, winning comes from a different source.
"We make each other laugh," Skenes said.
Skenes, a junior middle hitter, is one of two team captains at Lakeside. The other captain, Newman, begins her fourth season on the varsity squad. Newman said the team's attitude is different this year.
"There was a big division in past years between the starters and the ones who don't play very much," Newman said. "This year everyone has meshed so well."
Lakeside Head Coach Kevin Williams said the team's newfound chemistry has translated into wins for the Lady Panthers. Now atop the region standings, teams are starting to take notice.
"Part of it is the fact that they want each other to do well," Williams said. "You don't get this on every team."
The team's success has gradually grown over the past four years. In 2003, the team finished second in the region but went winless in the state tournament. Last year, the team won the region and reached the second round of the state tournament.
This year, Lakeside is playing without six seniors from last year's squad, and five were starters. As expectations increase for the young squad, the Lady Panthers know exactly how to handle the pressure.
"Everyone's so goofy, you can't be nervous," Newman said. "I know for a fact we get on coach's nerves."
Williams said the team's chemistry has been part of its success, but doesn't disrupt practice too much.
"Sometimes they're quick to start laughing about something," Williams said. "There's room for that."
Despite all the laughter, there's one thing that each member of the Lakeside volleyball team is dead serious about - beating Greenbrier.
"They're the only team where it gets personal," Newman said. "It's always been like that."
Last season, Lakeside won the area title with an upset victory over the favored Greenbrier Wolfpack. Each time the teams have clashed, it's serious business.
"We try to tell them to treat every game like it's Greenbrier," Williams said. "They get pumped up for Greenbrier."
As the Lady Panthers laugh their way through more victories in regular-season play, the girls are preparing for Thursday.
On Thursday, Greenbrier will come to Lakeside for a match featuring the area's two best teams.
Last year, the two teams met four times in the regular season with Greenbrier winning every match. Lakeside met their rival once more in the area tournament finals and upset the heavily favored Wolfpack.
With the showdown nearing, Newman said, the Lady Panthers know what to do.
"Basically, we laugh the whole time."
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