By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
Holly Strickland was a hitter for the Sardis volleyball team through her sophomore year, but a shoulder injury forced her to move to setter for her junior and senior seasons.
“It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Strickland said of the setter’s role.
Despite the challenge, Strickland mastered the position over the last two years. Her steady performance caught the attention of Snead State head coach Dee Ayres, who offered her an opportunity to join the Lady Parsons.
Strickland made it official during a Dec. 5 signing ceremony.
Strickland helped the Lady Lions win more than 30 matches, including the championship of the Brindlee Mountain Tournament, during her senior season.
“I had an opportunity to work with Holly and really get to know her at a camp this summer, and I’m really excited she’s going to be a Parson,” Ayres said.
Strickland thought Gadsden State might provide an option to continue her career, but she settled on Snead after Ayres conducted a camp for the Sardis program last summer.
“This summer whenever she came to do our camp and started talking to us is when I knew I wanted to go play for Snead and play for her,” Strickland said.
Strickland, who hopes to contribute during her freshman season, started playing volleyball at Sardis as a seventh-grader. Her mother, Natalie, coached her through her sophomore season.
“Well, we definitely had our differences on a lot of things, but I loved playing for her because it was so much fun,” Strickland said. “It was real special to me.”
Ayres said Strickland could play two positions for the Lady Parsons – setter or defensive specialist.
“We’ll work her in both positions just to see what works best for our team,” she said.
“Holly’s a hustler, she goes hard and she’s very coachable. She moves well on defense and she has great hands. She has a great touch with the ball, and I think that will pay off for us offensively.”
Ayres compares the role of a setter to the quarterback of a football team.
“If you don’t have a good quarterback, you’re not going to have a successful football team,” Ayres said. “And it’s the same thing with volleyball. If you don’t have that key setter, you’re not going to be able to have a successful program. They run the team. They’re calling plays, they’re telling them what they’re going to hit. They’ve got to be a leader, they’ve got to be able to be approachable by their teammates to tell them what they need to hit better.
“They have to be able to go to a player and be like, ‘Look, I gave you a good set, you have to use that set and put the ball away.’ It’s a critical position on the floor.”
Snead State went 16-19 and finished third in the 2013 Alabama Community College Conference state tournament.