April 19, 2013
BEAUMONT – Head coach Justin Gibert knew coming into January that he was going to have some work to do to prepare for the 2013 season, and so far, he’s been pretty pleased with the results as the Lady Cardinals have experienced a successful spring season under his direction.
There is perhaps no better indicator of a team’s progression than a spring game against a conference opponent, and Lamar certainly looked impressive in that regard, taking home a meeting against nearby rival McNeese State last weekend.
“We played an offensive section and a defense section, and then we finished with a couple of scrimmage games,” Gibert explained. “We really did great stuff as a team, especially on offense. I’m really pleased with the way the team played, and we were able to come out on top. The more we played, the better we got.”
Starring in the match was the duo of Alexa Johnson and Cortney Moore. Johnson, a freshman out of Nebraska, joined the program in January and is currently training to replace former Lady Card standout Alex Morford at setter.
“Alexa was very solid for us,” Gibert said. “She distributed the balls to the hitters well, especially as a young setter, and the serve receive really helped her because they got the ball to her in a really good position every time.”
“I thought I did a pretty good job,” Johnson added. “The girls did a really good job of making me feel comfortable, and it was a little different for me to go up and have to adjust to playing a different team. It was a lot of fun, and I really think that I’ve grown a lot as a player this spring.”
Moore, who was named the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year at the completion of the 2012 campaign, was also exceptional.
“Cortney was phenomenal, just phenomenal,” Gibert said. “She did some great, great stuff the entire time. She did it on both offense and defense, but really shined offensively.”
“I think we really showed how much practice is helping us,” Moore said of the McNeese performance. “The spring hasn’t been easy, but I enjoy it. I think we’re getting better and better every day, and I feel very confident in what I need to do to help the team next year. I’m excited about it.”
Developing young players has been the theme for the team this spring with the loss of five seniors from last season’s squad. In addition to Johnson, both Sara Landis and Chelsea Grant saw playing time in a Lamar uniform for the first times in their career, and rising junior Madi Martin saw a little bit of time as a right side hitter after spending the majority of the last two seasons at setter.
“We’ve spent most of the spring focusing on individual skills and individual play,” Gibert said. “We haven’t spent much time playing 6-on-6, and now we’re trying to put all those individual skills together as we get ready for the fall. We’re not as consistent as a team as we need to be yet, but I really see those capabilities shining through.”