Dora to depend on its defense

By Kevin Wilson

There are a lot of positives for the Dora High volleyball team — a decent returning nucleus, a solid foundation for next year, defense and team chemistry.
The biggest knock on the Lady Coyotes is something they can’t be faulted for. Dora’s district opponents have height, and Dora does not.
As the Lady Coyotes try to improve on a 10-9 campaign in 2002, they look to their defense to give them a chance in every match, starting Thursday when they travel to San Jon.
“We’re not one of the tallest teams in the district, so we’ve got to play good defense,” second-year Dora coach Myra Skinner said. “If you play good defense, you’re going to be in it at the end of every ball game.”
The team sports little height — sophomore Rana Terry checks in at 5-foot-10, but the average Lady Coyote is 5-foot-6 or less. It’s not an enviable situation, as District 3-1A opponent Melrose (Allison Cochran, Audrey Hemminger) has height to spare on its front line.
Add in that Elida will be looking to return to the Class 1A regionals and Class 1A runnerup Fort Sumner is loaded for another state tournament run, and the district’s two playoff spots look tougher and tougher to attain.
Still, the players have some degree of confidence. Like district opponent Floyd, Dora didn’t graduate any seniors from last year’s team and again has the services of junior Kassandra Clark. Clark missed last year after tearing her ACL over the summer.
“I think we’ll be fine if we keep working hard and work on our defense,” Clark said.
Dora returns three starters from last year’s team, all juniors — D’Shawn Pettigrew, Jena Bilberry and Marilyn Prewitt. Pettigrew and Bilberry have been working on a jump serve, something rarely seen in Class 1A.
The players say there was no particular reason to add it to the repertoire, other than to “add another challenge,” as Bilberry said.