By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
Sardis High has all of the ingredients of an outstanding volleyball team.
Scott Sandlin’s squad now needs to make it over a hump or two before it can be considered the school’s best ever.
“We feel pretty good, considering we went 29-16 last year on varsity and 12-4 on the junior varsity,” the coach said. “We lost three seniors and pulled up three really good players from the JV. We’ve got a good core of seniors, led by hitter Macy Bridges and setter Holly Strickland.”
Strickland is team captain.
The Lions are in a tough Class 4A, Area 12 with Guntersville, Crossville and Douglas. Sandlin has put together a tough schedule that includes the likes of Southside and Sand Rock. He hopes that a tough schedule will prevent an early exit from the playoffs. Sardis fell in the area tournament in 2012.
“I really hope we can get over the hump enough to at least make the regional,” Sandlin said.
Sardis opens the season on Aug. 29 at home against Glencoe
Jamie Foster got a late start as the coach at Coosa Christian, but she has high hopes for the season. She only took the job on Aug. 5 and had her first full-team practice on Aug. 20.
“We’ve got five returning senior starters,” she said. “And there’s another senior also. So with such an experienced lineup, I feel like we can contend in our area and region.”
The Conquerors are members of Class 1A, Area 12 along with Appalachian, Ragland and Jacksonville Christian.
Foster and husband, Danny, moved to the area from Pell City, where they coached at Victory Christian. Jamie Foster will also coach softball.
The Conquerors open the season on Sept. 3 at Collinsville.
Amy Travis moves up from junior high coach to varsity and with it, brings a lot of enthusiasm to the Glencoe club.
And teamwork is the hallmark of this group of Yellow Jackets.
“They know that volleyball is a team sport,” Travis said. “And they know that they have to share the responsibilities. They’re doing a great job of meshing and working together.”
This year’s team has 10 girls that Travis can play anywhere on the court.
“It’s a big thing for me to be able to put them out there at any position.”
Three seniors – Lorren Massaro, Amber Watkins and Jesse Fails – are providing great leadership.
“We’ve had some concentration problems, with school starting and football about to start,” Travis said. “Hopefully now that we’re getting settled into school, they’ll come back to me and settle into volleyball.”
The Yellow Jackets, whose Class 3A. Area 9 competition includes Ashville, Cleveland and Susan Moore, open the season on Aug. 29 at Sardis.
One step at a time.
Last year, Southside made the Class 5A North Regional but got beat by John Carroll Catholic in the opening round.
Now, coach Anna Johnson wants to go a bit further and win a match or two at regionals.
“I’m excited about this year,” she said. “The girls have a great attitude and they get along great. I really hope to have a better season and postseason.”
In 2012, the Panthers finished 35-29 and defeated John Carroll in an earlier tournament.
There are six girls who will get most of the playing time.
Three seniors – outside hitter Molly Tucker, middle hitter Morgan Harris and libero Baylee Gilchrist – will be joined by three juniors in outside hitters Lindsey Hindsman and Jada Thompson, as well as setter Cassie Davis.
“We won’t be substituting much,” Johnson said. “Those will be our go-to girls all season.”
The Panthers open the season on Aug. 29 at Sardis. Southside shares Area 13 with Etowah, Boaz and Fort Payne.
Miranda Love wasn’t too happy with last the results from last season’s Gaston High team. But she is excited about the possibilities of the 2013 club.
“These girls are excited to be here,” the coach said. “They’ve got a passion for the game and really want to do good things.”
The Bulldogs will be led by three seniors in outside hitter Destiny Allen, middle hitter Haley Solomon and setter Ashlie Sims. Two other seniors – Kara Ragan and Sarah Keener – will also contribute.
Junior Abby Elrod is the other outside hitter, and Love thinks this can be a good combination of players.
“They’re working really hard to get better every day,” she said. “I’m truly excited about what we can do this season.”
The Bulldogs will compete in Class 2A, Area 13 along with West End, Westbrook Christian and Sand Rock.