Plenty to work forPublished 1:50pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012
In 2011, Benjamin Russell High School girls volleyball lost in the first round of the Class 6A South Regional tournament in a season that saw ups and downs with the young squad.
The 2012 season and the transition in Class 5A has brought BRHS (32-9) a top-10 ranking, a strong seeding and the experience to make a state title run beginning Friday morning in Montgomery.
“I think the girls are really excited and I expect a good week of practice this week so that we can be well prepared to have a good showing in the Regional,” BRHS head volleyball coach Pam Robinson said.
“I have high aspirations for this team.”
No. 7 Benjamin Russell will face off against a familiar opponent in Faith Academy in the first round of the Regional Friday.
With a victory, BRHS would then more than likely square off with No. 9 Spanish Fort in the second round.
The Lady Wildcats have built up a name for themselves in the Class 5A rankings, breaking through in the third week of the season and not falling out all year long.
Besides the evident class change, the biggest transformation for the Lady Wildcats has happened through their personnel, which despite their experience, is still young.
“We had a lot of sophomores and freshman playing last season and I think that has helped us this year from a confidence and experience standpoint,” said Robinson, who only has two seniors on her roster this season in Sada Hutchins and Tatum Gandy.
“The change from the mindset of last year’s team and this years team is different because I think the girls know that they can go out and compete with anyone we match up against.”
From the looks of things, it doesn’t appear that Benjamin Russell will be slouching in Class 5A volleyball for years to come, as the Lady Wildcats consistently play four juniors in Jada Carr, Cookie Kelley, Aaliyah Lawson and Jernika Russell, as well as sophomore Chloe Owens on the outside with Kelley.
One of the biggest strengths that the Lady Cats present to opponents? Diversity.
Whether it is Carr, Lawson, or Russell at the net, Owens and Kelley on the attack or Gandy on the set, Benjamin Russell has weapons that seemingly all of their opponents through the 2012 season have yet to figure out.
If they can get through the first two rounds against quality teams in Faith and Spanish Fort, BRHS will have the odds in their favor to finish in the top-4 and punch a ticket to the Elite Eight state finals in Birmingham.
“As a team, we’re ready for the opportunity and challenge,” Robinson added.
“I want this team to push through and keep having success.”