Gadsden State volleyball primed for 2023

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Photo: Pictured, front row, from left: Zoe Walker, Macey Johnson, Morgan Baswell, Kandyn Blankenship, Kinslee Gray, Ziniah Hardy. Back row, from left manager Olivia Frietag, Keelan Vice, Ella Garmany, Hailey Hanners, Ryleigh Pack, Kaleigh Butler, Sera Beth Potter, Lauren Davis. (Courtesy of Gadsden State) 

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Courtney Brothers came out of her first season as Gadsden State volleyball coach with two primary goals for the 2023 season, one physical and the other mental.
“I thought that we had to get a little bit quicker on the court and have better volleyball IQ,” she said. “If we improve in those two areas, we should be competitive. One positive from last year was that the sophomores really helped the freshmen understand what the expectations are at this level and what it takes to be successful.”
Brothers believes her veterans and her newcomers have developed a solid camaraderie over the past few months.
“We’ve jelled pretty well since the spring. They’re in most of the same classes, they go out to eat together and they’re carpooling everywhere. We also had about four camps and three play dates, so the girls have gotten to know each other pretty well.”
Returning sophomores include outside hitter Keelan Vice and defensive specialist Ziniah Hardy from Southside, outside hitter Sera Beth Potter from Ashville, libero/defensive specialist Kandyn Blankenship from Alexandria, outside hitter Lauren Davis from Buckhorn and defensive specialist/setter Zoe Walker from Hewitt-Trussville.
“Keelan’s very versatile and she knows her roles,” said Brothers. “She’s not the biggest [player] in the middle, but she’s very quick. Kandyn reads the ball very well and she’s everywhere on the court. There are not many balls that hit the floor when Ziniah’s on the court, and if we have trouble in the front row, I won’t think twice about putting her up there. Sera Beth will be out for a few weeks with an ankle injury, but she’s a very big part of our team, and we’ll miss her until she comes back. Lauren has gotten a lot better with her playing in the spring and summer and has a really good cut on the ball that not many players have. Zoe’s done very well for us at setter. She’s one of those [players] who will run through a brick wall to get to a ball.”
The freshman class features defensive specialist Kinslee Gray and middle hitter Hailey Hanners from Glencoe; outside hitter Ella Garmany from Cherokee County, outside hitter Macey Johnson from Grissom, setter Morgan Baswell from Springville, middle hitter Kaleigh Butler from Geraldine and outside hitter Ryleigh Pack from Hazel Green.
“Ella’s a gamer,” said Brothers. “She has a quiet personality, but when she’s on the court takes over. Macey’s a hustler and a go-getter who did very well for us this summer. Kinslee’s doing really well at getting used to the faster pace at this level. Kaleigh has really stepped up her game, especially filling in for Sera Beth. Hailey’s a softball person that we’ve brought in to help. Ryleigh’s a late addition who is probably our tallest player. She’s been filling in some roles in the middle and on the outside.
After not participating in any tournaments last year, Brother scheduled several for this season, including one each at Pensacola, Fla., and Snead State and twice at Wallace Hanceville.
“That should give our girls a lot of playing time and experience and agive some of the bigger schools the chance to see them play.”
Gadsden State competes in the Alabama Community College Conference North Division along with Snead State, Wallace-Hanceville, Calhoun, Lawson State, Southern Union and Bevill State.
“Everybody on our schedule is tough; there’s not a weak link,” said Brothers. ““If everyone does their job and we don’t beat ourselves, we’ll have a chance in every match.”

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