Nets to go up in one week: HHS ready
Lady Tigers talented; head coach optimistic about 2003 season
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
Things are looking good for Tanya Lybarger.
The Hartselle head volleyball coach led the Lady Tigers to a 43-13 record last season, and her team ranked as high as 10th in the state at one point.
Don't look for a let down in the 2003 season.
Lybarger will return five seniors to this year's team.
"I think if we play up to our potential, we can make it to the Elite 8," Lybarger said. "It's going to take a lot of work, though."
Outside hitter Regan Sandlin and setter Holly Kilgore are gone. The pair graduated in May, as Sandlin will try to play softball for Alabama and Kilgore will play volleyball for Central (Alexander City) Community College.
Combining the loss of her two top players and two rule changes, Lybarger will change her strategy a bit.
"We're going to play a 5-1 this year where as last year we played more of a 6-2," she said. Playing a 5-1 this season will put the setting responsibilities on junior Sarah Whitlow's shoulders. Last season in the 6-2 line-up, Kilgore and Whitlow both played the setter position.
As for the rule changes, high school volleyball will change to a rally-scoring format. The National Federation Volleyball Rules Committee announced earlier this year it would make the rally scoring format mandatory in 2004-05, with state associations having the option on implementing rally-scoring rules in 2003-04.
All matches will be best-of-five series, but schools may play best of three at an invitational or tri-match.
Changes brought to the table by the rally scoring format are as followed:
1. Games will be played to 25 points with the fifth and deciding game (if necessary) will be played to 15.
2. The let serve will be allowed, and play will continue provided net contact is made entirely between the net antennas.
3. Each team will be allowed two timeouts per game, with a total of 10 timeouts per match if it goes into five games.
A new position also is being created. The libero position is strictly meant for a defensive specialist. Lybarger said the new position will fit her team well.
"We'll have Anna Byrd playing there," Lybarger said. "She was a defensive specialist last season, and she'll fall right into that position this year."
Playing the libero position, Byrd, a senior, will not be able to serve or attack, but she can play for anybody without counting it as a substitution. Byrd only will be able to play on the back row.
Byrd, along with fellow seniors Michelle Major, Easton Eubanks, Melanie Mitchell and Teresa Kilborn, all saw extensive action last season.
But, not all the talent lies within the senior class. Playing alongside Whitlow will be junior Sarah McNutt.
"She was my leading attacker and leading blocker last year," Lybarger said. "She is very talented up front."
McNutt was named a Class 5A All-State Honorable Mention.
Sophomore Shan Jones will be a "good addition" to the team according to Lybarger. She did not play last season but was a standout on the basketball court as a freshman. Also expecting to see a lot of playing time are Kayla Orr and Jenna Weatherford. Lauren Davis, a transfer, will have to sit this season.
"I want to see us win the Area," Lybarger said. Brewer, Cullman and Walker, along with the Lady Tigers make up the Area. "We went to camp this summer and they set goals for themselves, and of course we would like to win the state championship. Everybody does. But, it will be tough. I know Brewer will have another strong team. Plus, we're in the same region we were in last year, with Southside and Gardendale. They are both great teams, so I know we have a long way to go."
Hartselle begins the season next Thursday, Aug. 28 at Decatur. The tri- match against Johnson and Decatur begins at 4 p.m.