Alma volleyball, new coach ready for first match

Kevin Taylor
Special to the Press Argus-Courier

Kim Weaver has been ready to coach Alma’s first volleyball match for six months. Now, she may get a chance.

Last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson gave the green light for teams to prepare for fall athletics. Weaver and a number of Alma coaches watched the announcement from Charles B. Dyer Arena.

“I think it was exciting; everybody kind of had this collective deep breath,” Weaver said. “We’ve been in the gym since June 1st. It’s nice to know that the possibility of our season is very much there. I think there will be different guidelines as far as attendance (fans), but we’re excited.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to at least know that we have a chance.”

The Lady Airedales are scheduled to open the season Aug. 20 against Springdale. The team is slated to make its 2020 home debut Aug. 29 against Shiloh Christian as part of the Alma Tournament.

“Now we’re waiting to see if we have preseason (matches) and tournaments,” Weaver said. “That makes a difference to us as far as being prepared for the start of conference.”

Earlier this spring, Weaver was picked to succeed Kathy Jones.

“My first day was March 2nd, and it was the 16th when everything shut down,” Weaver said. “We kind of immediately transitioned into going virtually through Google meetings. We tried to use it as an opportunity for them to learn. We treated it like a class. It gave our kids to watch some film on some things we’re going to be implementing, to give them a foundation before we start putting it together on the court. But you could tell it’s just not the same. We wanted to be face-to-face. You can only have so many Google meets before you’re like, ‘We need to see each other.’

“Once June 1st hit, there was an eagerness to be in the gym.”

Weaver said attendance and commitment have been “outstanding.”

Alma returns a number of key pieces, including hard-hitting Lillie Warnock.

“Lillie has done some great things in the gym this summer,” Weaver said. “We’ve been talking to her about controlling that arm swing and making decisions on how to tame her own athletic ability, and she’s responded really well. Coach (UAFS coach Jane Sargent) was here last week for a little camp and she shined. There are moments when you’re like, ‘Wow, this is really incredible.’

“Rebekah McIntosh and Bella (Nutt) are looking outstanding. (Nutt’s) leadership is just great.”

Senior Sidney Hatley, Weaver said, may play a new position this year. “She was in the libero role last year,” the coach said. “We’re kind of exploring some different ways to use her. Basically, we want to get six strong athletic kids on the court and figure out a way to compete.”

The Lady Airedales open 5A-West play Sept. 8 against Vilonia.

Charla Parrish will serve as Weaver’s assistant. Former Southside standout Whitney Adams will coach the junior high team, Weaver said.