Special to The Commercial/Bo Rogers
Alexis Lowe sets up the ball for Rachel Tims during Thursday’s practice.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff volleyball coach Kyetta May knows how it feels to win a championship at H.O. Clemmons Arena. She is now trying to figure out how to do it with a team from the UAPB campus.
May was part of Alabama A&M squad that won back-to-back SWAC titles in 2000-01 at Clemmons. Now that she enters her first season at the helm of the Lady Lions, she wants to bring that championship experience back to Pine Bluff.
“I won two championships in this gym,” the St. Louis native said. “Hopefully, that is a good sign.”
But winning one for UAPB with little to no volleyball history and winning one at tradition-rich Alabama A&M are two different things.
“As far as I know it really hasn’t had any tradition,” May said of the volleyball program. “It’s just one of those programs that needs a lot of growth and development. Pretty much trying to do that from the ground up. Try to change the culture and mind-set of the girls … get them to thinking and practicing like champions. Get them together as a team.”
May and the Lady Lions continue to jell as a team during pre-season workouts through the remainder of this week and into next week before starting the season Aug. 31 at Alcorn State in Lorman, Miss.
May inherited the 6-16 program that won only twice away from Clemmons after leading Kentucky State to a 23-15 overall record, 15-1 in the Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. She posted three consecutive undefeated SIAC conference titles from 2007-09, winning 36 straight games and finished with a total of 66 conference wins and just two losses.
“That’s a huge difference in what I am used to,” May said. “Coming from a program that had huge success to a program that hasn’t. But I think I have better talent here. I feel like I have more depth with this team.”
May molded together an even mixture of returning players and transfers. Seven return from last year, four transferred from Kentucky State and three were recruited by May when she arrived in May. She says the returning players from last year’s four-win squad are learning how to conduct themselves, both on and off the court.
“I brought four players in and recruited three,” said May. “It was experience I had to build. They had potential. I am getting them to thinking like winners. They all have the potential. They just need to see their true potential.”
Following the season opener at Alcorn State, the Lady Lions will open the home schedule at 7 p.m. on Sept. 3 against Texas-El Paso.
UAPB earned its first home win of the season in a three-set victory over Alcorn State last year.