Lady Bears seek to reverse fortunes in 2020


Team members include, from left, front row: Lesleigh Brown, Chloe Shelton, Destiny Cornett and Lindsay Hall; second row: Ashton Evans, Kadee Lewis and Hannah Huff; third row: Katiera Lewis, Gracie Ewing, Emilee Eldridge and Brooklyn Wood; fourth row: Alexis Freeman, Brenna Early, Lily Clem and Aubree Gilbert; fifth row: Lindsey Browning, Michaela Gross, Kamryn Hoiska and Lilly Caballero; back row: coaches Christina Spurlock and Dixie Ewing; not pictured: coach Cathy York.

Coming off a four-win season and their first opening-round exit in the district tournament in 10 years, the Harlan County Lady Bears are hoping for a fresh start in 2020. Bouncing back won’t be easy with five seniors gone from last year’s team, including four starters.
“Our team as a whole is pretty young,” said second-year coach Christina Spurlock. “I have my entire junior varsity team returning back and few varsity players. Since this season looks a lot different, we haven’t had as much time to prepare. But all in all the girls have done great. They came to practice ready to work.”
Working around the coronavirus pandemic has been a new challenge this summer.
“The girls have done awesome with distancing themselves from one another, wearing their mask, using hand sanitizer. They understand how serious this virus is and how important it is to keep themselves safe and also their family,” Spurlock said. “We all understand that this season isn’t going to look the same. But we are excited just to be back together doing what they love, and thankful for the opportunity to do so.”
Brenna Early, a senior, and Lindsey Browning, a junior, are the only returning starters for the Lady Bears.
“My two starting varsity returning players are Brenna and Lindsey,” Spurlock said. “They are both a strong point for our team. Lindsey and Brenna both have great serves as well as Brenna is a top setter, reads the floor great. Very vocal. Then Lindsay also has an amazing serve. She also has a strong outside hit.”
Browning is an outside hitter, along with sophomore Lindsay Hall and junior Lilly Caballero. Kamryn Hoiska, a junior, is the middle hitter, while junior Gracie Ewing is the team’s top passer.
“Lilly is a good all-around player. She can play all spots on the floor well,” Spurlock said. “Gracie is very vocal, great passer. Kamryn is a strong middle this year, working the net great. Kateria (Lewis) is also making awesome assists with passes and sets. Then, I also have Lindsey Hall, who will be my other great outside hitter. She’s improved so much this season.”
HCHS opened the season with a loss to visiting Barbourville, but Spurlock is still confident the Lady Bears will show improvement.
“With such a short notice to prepare for the season, I’m excited,” she said. “I feel like I have a strong group. They all click well together. They play as a team.”