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Lamar learns from early-season struggles

Sep. 6—The Lamar Raiders faced six Midsouth Association of Independent Schools Division I teams to kick off their 2023 season after winning the MAIS Division II title last year. They suffered three sweeps in four losses in those matches, with Lamar's only wins coming in 2-1, 3-2 defeats of Hartfield Academy.

Lamar, missing a couple of key players because of illness, picked up a 25-14, 25-10, 25-13 win over Union at home on Tuesday to notch their ninth sweep on the season and improve to 12-5 overall. Lamar hitter Caroline Frugé said her team has cleaned up so much since those early-season losses.

"I'm really happy with where we're at, especially for right now," Frugé said. "It showed us, in the beginning of the season right when we started, what we needed to work on exactly, then from there we've had all season to work on it, so we have sharpened up the skills that we were most weak in."

The Raiders are 11-1 in their last 12 matches, but Lamar coach Courtney Schimelpfening still has her team working every practice to improve on their weaknesses. She said the goal is to always peak in October for a playoff run.

"We like to stack the beginning of our season because we can see how we compare and what we really need to work on, and that's part of scheduling really tough teams that will expose us and let us know that we need to hit the ground running, we need to keep training. It helps our girls stay motivated. That's definitely the plan is to play the toughest teams we can find," Schimelpfening said.

Schimelpfening said the Raiders have cleaned up their defensive play at this point in the season and her hitters are getting into rhythm with freshman setter Rylee Schimelpfening. A couple of other freshmen have stepped up into Lamar's libero and defensive specialist positions, and their coach said they are doing a great job of playing up to the standard of the upperclassmen.

"I think at first we had a question mark next to what we were expecting for this season, and now I think this team has just completely stepped up, performed incredibly," Courtney Schimelpfening said. "It's been the best culture that I think we could ever ask for. Everything is really meshing so well, and I think this team is definitely on the path to being just as good or even better than last year's squad, which means a championship win at the end of the season."

Contact Christian Knox on Twitter @TheChrisKnox