The state’s Junior Olympic programs have upped the ante in the sport of volleyball, much like AAU has in basketball. If one looks at the majority of quality teams, it is likely it is littered with junior Olympic players.
Sylvan Hills head coach Harold Treadway doesn’t have a roster of those kinds of players, but he has experience, but he says that the two teams considered the 5A-Central elite, Little Rock Christian and Pulaski Academy, do have those players.
"I would say probably three fourths of the players at Little Rock Christian played [Junior Olympic] volleyball," Treadway said, "and a couple at PA played on the national team."
When giving his assessment of his conference, Treadway said that his club should assert themselves no lower than third place in the league, and could possibly give the Lady Warriors and Lady Bruins a bit of a run for their money.
"My philosophy is be the best team you can be," Treadway said. "If you left the court and you can say you gave it everything you had, it’s going to work out in your favor most of the time."
Treadway said that as it is in most seasons, there could be a logjam amongst his club as well as Jacksonville, Little Rock Mills and North Pulaski.
"We are all in the same boat," Treadway said. "We are all county schools, we have the same issues in money, participation and facilities."
The Lady Bears had success against Jacksonville and Mills while splitting with North Pulaski.
"If we take care of business against those schools," Treadway said, "and maybe we can catch a PA or a Little Rock Christian on an off night, then maybe we have a chance to get into that second spot or maybe even win it."
Experience will likely be key for teams looking to make a deep run into the state tournament. Little Rock Christian and Pulaski Academy have racked up that experience in year round competition.
Sylvan Hills has cycled around and will field an experienced, competitive team of their own hoping to build on last season’s state tournament appearance.