Westbrook, Etowah volleyball standouts sign with Wallace State


Barber signingBy Chris McCarthy/Editor

A pair of local high school seniors will continue their volleyball careers with the most successful junior college volleyball program in Alabama.
Etowah’s Emma Jones and Westbrook Christian’s Courtlyn Barber both signed scholarships recently with Wallace State-Hanceville.
The Lady Lions have won the past eight Alabama Community College Conference Tournaments. Last season, Wallace-Hanceville went 38-6, did not lose a set in conference play and extended its undefeated ACCC match streak to 40 games.
This past season, Jones helped the Lady Blue Devils win 21 matches while contributing 502 kills, 211 digs, 75 blocks, 69 aces and 36 assists while finishing with a serving percentage of 88 percent.
Also a standout player for the EHS softball team, Jones said that it was a difficult decision on which sport to play in college. As a catcher for the Lady Blue Devils last season, Jones batted .482 along with 54 RBI, seven home runs and 32 doubles. She was selected to the ASWA All-State Class 5A second team and All-Messenger first team after helping Etowah post a 42-15-1 record, finish the regular season as the 10th ranked team in 5A, win the area and regional tournaments and make it to the state tournament.
“Whenever I got the offer from Wallace, it showed me that [volleyball] was the one for me,” said Jones, who plans on studying physical therapy. “It’s the school I’ve always wanted to go to and always watched [the volleyball team] and thought that they were amazing. I feel so blessed and honored to be a part of that program. I’m so excited to get down there.”
A five-year varsity starter at outside hitter, Barber finished this past season with 511 kills while helping the 2016 Lady Warriors post a 39-6 record, maintain a No. 3 state ranking throughout the regular season and make it to the North Super Regional quarterfinals. She was named area tournament MVP. She played with Southern Performance Volleyball Academy’s national team for the past three years.
“Today is very special, because I’ve wanted to play college volleyball since I was in the seventh grade,” said Courtlyn, who also plans on studying physical therapy at Wallace. “I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today. Playing volleyball and studying is basically what I’ve done the last few years. I’m very excited to go to [Wallace-Hanceville] and I can’t wait to see what happens.”
Etowah head volleyball coach Jim Bogle believes that Jones is the first player from the school to sign a college volleyball scholarship in the post-1980s era.
“If Emma’s not the best player I’ve ever coached, she’s in the top two,” he said. “She is what you’d call a ‘coach-pleaser,’ because she wants to be the best that she can be and she’ll asked for help to get there. During Emma’s ca-reer here, whatever position I needed her to play at, she did. She’s played center, outside, middle and setter and did a great job at each one.
“There were several matches this season that we were out of, and Emma just kept swinging away. That says a lot about her competitive nature. She just goes after it and never gives up. Another thing with Emma is that she loves her teammates. She doesn’t want to let them down. Emma’s just a great kid, and I’ve really enjoyed coaching her.”
“Emma’s a very athletic and versatile kid,” said Wallace-Hanceville volleyball coach Randy Daniel. “Those are my ideal-type players, because they can play more than one position. She’s played multiple sports and comes from a very athletic family.”
Jones’ sister Sheridan lettered four years for the Gadsden City High volleyball team before playing at Faulkner State and Cumberland University. Their dad Stacy was a standout baseball player at Etowah High who played in the major leagues for two seasons.
“Emma’s also a very de-dicated and goal-oriented type of kid that wants to join us and work hard and keep the program going,” added Daniel. “As a person, she has a great attitude and high character, which is what we want first and foremost in our program.”
“Courtlyn is a dynamic player who brings leadership, a high skill level and a hard work ethic to the table,” said Westbrook volleyball coach Jamie Barkley. “She was a very big part of our success this year. She has a calm presence that when we needed to score or stop a rally, she knew the game well enough to get the job done. She not only plays the game well but she studies it, and I think that she’ll be a coach one day.”
“Courtlyn has trained very hard going up through the club system out of Birmingham,” said Daniel. “She’s a very athletic and a good defensive player. She practiced with us and did well against my kids, so that was an eye-opener.”
Daniel can see both girls making immediate contributions to the 2017 Lady Lions.
“There’s such a high turnover rate in (junior college), you have to recruit girls who are ready to step in right away. Then when it seems like just when they settle in, they’re out the door.”

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