Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
COVID-19 or no COVID-19, the Gadsden State volleyball team is ready to defend its 2019 state championship starting this Wednesday (Jan. 25) at Beck Field House.
The Lady Cardinals’ 2020 season was moved to this spring due to coronavirus concerns. The Alabama Community College Conference recently issued guidelines to each school, chief among them was that spectators will be not allowed at indoor sports games until February 13, at which time the ACCC will re-evaluate the situation.
“There’s a lot of uncertainly going into this season, but we’re just thankful that we’re getting to play,” said Gadsden State head coach Connie Clark. “The girls are disappointed that their parents won’t be able to see them play for a while, but I told them that if we want to continue to play, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We’re just going to do our best to keep our girls healthy and safe.”
Many new faces dot the GSCC 2021 roster, as just four sophomores – setter Leighanna Tralongo (pictured above), libero Joanie Lang, middle hitter China Lane and setter Gracie West – return from last year’s NJCAA Gulf Atlantic District championship team. The 2019 Lady Cardinals finished 26-10 overall and 14-3 in ACCC play.
“We lost a lot,” Clark acknowledged. “Having a few games in the fall did help a little bit as far as getting the younger girls some experience. We’re just going to see how they perform. All four of our sophomores are pretty good leaders, so that will help. We’re not that big, so we’re going to have to do a lot of other things really well. Size will definitely be an issue for us, but we’ve got some options so we can compensate for that.”
The freshmen class includes setter Bliss Brown from Southside, outside hitter Tamera Garner from Buckhorn, outside hitter Cameron Lovell from Brooks, outside hitter Savannah Manley from Addison, outside hitter Tori Moffatt from Huntsville, libero Madalynn Owen from Priceville, outside hitter Sloan White from Hazel Green and outside hitter Maegan Milligan from Lawrence County. Milligan suffered a shoulder injury in the fall and will miss the spring season.
“Bliss is a good player, and we’ll expect her to be a big contributor at setter,” said Clark. “Cam is doing well; she’s a good jumper and hits a hard ball. I look for her to be one of our top kill leaders. Sloan has really good ball control. Both Cam and Sloan are good servers. Savannah is our bigger players and can swing well from the right side. Tori will in the middle, along with China.”
The Lady Cardinals open conference play on February 3 at Wallace State-Hanceville. The NJCAA Gulf Atlantic Tournament is scheduled for April 1-3 at Wallace-Hanceville.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, Clark has been giving her players work at more than one position.
“It’s important, because you might have two or three players out who either test positive or have contact trace, so we’re doing a lot of different things at practice. But we’ve got some good players, and if we do certain things well, we’ll be okay.”