Striving for greatness

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Red Level Lady Tigers know what it takes to make the playoffs, and they look to make another run in the 2016 AHSAA volleyball season.

Brook Bogade sets up another Red Level player in practice on Monday .

Brook Bogade sets up another Red Level player in practice on Monday .

“The varsity team is going to be in pretty good shape this year,” Lady Tigers’ head coach Dawn Kelley said. “I’ve got six girls returning and two new girls on the varsity squad this year.”

Kelley said the team has shown her a lot this summer during workouts and play dates.

“These girls have had a tremendous summer,” Kelley said. “They have shown me so much potential and growth over the summer. These girls know what it takes to win, and they are ready to outwork the other teams.”

The Lady Tigers also have several seniors that Kelley expects to guide the team.

“I’ve got three seniors and I expect those girls to really step up and be leaders this season,” Kelley said. “They have been around the program for awhile now and it’s their turn to step into their roles as leaders, and I think that is something I saw from them this summer.”

Kelley said that the Lady Tigers’ strongest tool would be their serving.

“Our serving is going to be our biggest weapon,” Kelley said. “We’ve improved a lot in that area. This season, Kayley Ayers will be one of our main servers, and she didn’t do it at all last year. That is how much she has improved.”

Another returning player Kelley expects to make a big impact is Codi Howell.

“Codi is a very good returning player for us,” Kelley said. “She is just an all-around player. I can her anywhere and she is going to come up with the ball.”

The Lady Tigers will have Brook Bogade and Lillian Mack as the setters this season.

“Our main setter graduated last year, so that was a position we had to replace,” Kelley said. “Brook and Lillian both played some last year on varsity and junior varsity as setters, so they have experience. They both have come along way, and I’ve been very impressed with how they have handled the ball.”

Kelley said that the varsity Lady Tigers were in good shape, but still had some things that they needed to improve on.

“We’ve still got to work on our footwork and getting the ball in the right spot,” Kelley said. “The girls have shown improvement in those areas and shown me that they are willing to put in the work to improve it.”

After making the playoffs and advancing to the Class 1A South Regional tournament in Mongtomery, the Lady Tigers find themselves in different area in 2016. The new area consists of Brantley, Highland Home and McKenzie.

“It’s going to be a different area for us this year,” Kelley said. “We played Highland Home and McKenzie last year and did great against them, but we haven’t played area.”

Even in the new area, Kelley said the Lady Tigers’ goals remain the same.

“Making it back to at least Montgomery,” Kelley said of her expectations for the 2016 Lady Tigers. “The girls have the potential to do it. We are going to make it back to Montgomery, and maybe even go further.”

While the varsity Lady Tigers are loaded with experience, the junior varsity squad will depend on several new faces, Kelley said.

“Our junior varsity team is going to be extremely young this year,” Kelley said. “Cecilia Cobb is the only player returning.”

Cobb will be the Lady Tigers top setter this season, Kelley said.

“Cecilia has really come along since last year,” Kelley said. “Alexis Perdue is one of the new girls and she will also play setter for us. Both of them looked good in our scrimmages this summer. I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen from them.”

Recently, the Lady Tigers competed in a preseason match with McKenzie with the varsity winning 3-1.

“I thought both of our teams did a great job against McKenzie,” Kelley said. “The varsity team won their match, and although the junior varsity team didn’t win I felt that they competed great. That is what I want to continue to see from them.”

The Lady Tigers will begin the 2016 season on August 25 with a home match against Hillcrest-Evergreen at 4 p.m.

“I just want everyone to come out and support the girls this year,” Kelley said. “They have put in so much hard work this offseason, and we are just ready to get things started against Hillcrest.”