Straughn Lady Tigers post record-breaking season

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ashley Hughes was a big part of the Lady Tigers’ record-breaking season. Josh Dutton/Star-News

Ashley Hughes was a big part of the Lady Tigers’ record-breaking season.
Josh Dutton/Star-News

The Straughn Lady Tigers’ volleyball team set a school-record with 34 wins this season and won their area for the third season in a row.

“Word can’t really express how I feel about this group of girls,” Straughn head volleyball coach Daniel Rodgers said. “This team is unlike any team that I have ever coached. It was truly a blessing from God for me to be a part of this incredible team.”

After losing several key players from last year’s squad, Rodgers said he wasn’t sure what to expect from the mostly inexperienced group.

“Honestly, coming into the season I had didn’t think we had the kind of team it takes to win 34 games and accomplish what these girls accomplished,” Rodgers said. “I knew we had a lot of talent, but we also had a lot of girls that didn’t have much, if any, high school experience coming in. For us to be competitive, I knew we would have to have some young players step up and they did just that.”

Early in the season, the Lady Tigers trailed Opp, but came back to win to remain undefeated. Rodgers said that the match showed him a lot about his team.

“We were down 2-0 to Opp and the girls fought back to win three-straight sets,” Rodgers said. “That was the moment that I knew that I really had something special. They never thought they were beat and they never quit. It was clear after that game that this group could accomplish anything that they put their minds to.”

Rodgers said that the Lady Tigers will miss the two departing seniors, Ashley Hughes and Sarah Langford.

“Ashley and Sarah have left a legacy that is going to hard to match,” Rodgers said. “Their impact on this program has been incredible, and I’m going to miss having them around next year. Not just because of their abilities on the court, but for their leadership.”

Rodgers said that leadership was key to the Lady Tiger’s success this season.

“The way this team gelled was incredible,” Rodgers said. “The seniors and the other leaders of the team really pushed the younger players along. They taught them what to do, but they were patient with them when they made mistakes. That patients allowed the younger players to feel more at ease and they weren’t scared to go out there and give it everything they had.”

What the team has accomplished is something that Rodgers said will be hard to replicate.

“It’s truly amazing what these girls accomplished,” Rodgers said. “I don’t know if this type of season will ever be matched her. I really can’t express how truly blessed I am to be their coach. They have set the bar high for this program.”

The Lady Tigers made it to the Elite-Eight in Birmingham before being put out by Carbon Hill.