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franklin county times

Bulldogs start volleyball season strong

Autumn Bragwell and Ansley Tate Rickard have been two key players for the Bulldogs thus far this volleyball season.
Autumn Bragwell and Ansley Tate Rickard have been two key players for the Bulldogs thus far this volleyball season.

“We have already won as many as we did our last season.”

It’s hard to argue with that kind of indicator of success, marking a strong volleyball start for the Belgreen Bulldogs.

In the Cherokee Invitational in late August, the team claimed wins against Cherokee, Sheffield and Colbert County and losses to Shoals Christian and Covenant, placing third.

“I think the girls have started out very well,” Coach Teresa Whitten said. “We are playing aggressively and playing well as a team. We have three freshmen who start and are doing a great job. Our returning seniors have really picked up the pace as being our leaders.”

After playing 11 tough non-conference matches with a record of 6-5, Belgreen began conference play at Tharptown Thursday night. The JV won its third straight match with Emma Dempsey and Bailey Oliver (both in 8th grade) leading the team in serving aces and kills. The varsity won as well, three sets to zero. Sophomore Camie Terrell led the team with eight kills and one block. Freshman setter Autumn Bragwell had 18 digs and nine assists. Freshman Katie Dempsey and senior Ana Castillo both had six kills each.

The varsity’s record is 7-5.

Dempsey, Whitten said, was nominated for North Alabama Player of the Week by al.com.

“Our school was so excited that Katie Dempsey was nominated for Player of the Week on al.com,” Whitten said. “It is an honor for her and our program because it is rare for a small school such as Belgreen to have a player even nominated. She came in second with over 4,000 votes to a player from Grissom. Katie is just a freshman, so I expect that she will continue to receive recognition throughout her career.”

Dempsey is one of several promising players among Whitten’s Lady Bulldogs, including “Autumn Bragwell, who has learned and adjusted to becoming an efficient setter” and “Ansley Tate, the other freshman, who changed from setter to middle hitter and blocker. Her strength in the middle has already helped us tremendously.”

“Our area is tough this year, but I feel like if we continue to improve our weaknesses and build on our strengths, we will find success,” Whitten said. “I expect 100 percent relentless effort, and if they give that each match, I believe we are going to have a great year.”

Varsity was back in action Monday night at Belgreen in a tri-match with Colbert County and Cherokee – two teams BHS played and defeated at the Cherokee Invitational. Both the JV and varsity teams played Tuesday at Colbert Heights and will play at home Thursday.

“We have defeated teams we have never beaten, or have not in a while, like Shoals Christian, Sheffield, Colbert County and Cherokee,” Whitten said. “Our goals have been set, and our expectations are high. We will continue to work to meet them all.”