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franklin county times

Volleyball season ramps up for Belgreen

By Bart Moss for the FCT

 

Meet the Coach: Teresa Whitten graduated from Hamilton High School in Marion County and from Mississippi State University with an English degree. She earned her M.A.T in English-Language Arts from the University of West Alabama. Whitten began teaching in 2002 and started teaching at Belgreen in 2011, the same year BHS began its volleyball program. She took over as the head coach in 2012.

Program notes: Since 2013, BHS has made it to Super-regionals in Huntsville every year. Last year, Belgreen celebrated the team’s best year as a program by advancing to the Sweet 16, falling to second-ranked Decatur Heritage. The Bulldogs ended the season 17-14. Katie Dempsey was named AL.com’s Player of the Week last year. Belgreen is ranked sixth in the state in the 1A pre-season AL.com volleyball poll.

Pre-season practice: “Pre-season practice has been intense and highly productive. I am usually still pondering over rotations and major issues. This year has been really different in that I already know the rotations, and the overall atmosphere is we are a team and not separate individuals, which is always an issue when coaching girls.

“We have two veteran players who are leading our teams, but they are only sophomores. Our setter, Autumn Bragwell, and outside hitter Katie Dempsey are the varsity’s team captains. They have been playing since 7th grade and know the game well, which makes my job easier. The core of our team are sophomores who have played since 7th grade, which is new for me. They are my first group to have each year since 7th grade, so they are very-well accustomed to my coaching and our team’s philosophies.

“JV’s captain is Bailey Oliver, who is a strong, consistent all-around player, who will do an excellent job leading the JV team. The JV’s co-captain is Kelsey Wilson, who is a setter. This is her first year to play, but nobody would know it by watching her; she is very vocal and has picked up the game quickly.”

Team strengths: “Last year, we were really strong in serving and defense; this is carrying over into this season as well. The one thing we have really worked on this summer and pre-season is hitting and blocking. We have three really strong hitters. Every player on our team can serve consistently, but we have a couple who can really create havoc for the opposing team.”

Outstanding individuals: “As far as relying on certain players, I rely on all of them to do their job well, whatever it may be. I am constantly telling them to give 100 percent no matter what your job is.

“It all starts with the pass, and we have four excellent passers: Kaycee Wilson, Bailey Wood, Gracie Demspey and Katie Dempsey. We are running a 5-1 this season, so our setter Autumn Bragwell does an outstanding job of finding the ball and getting it to our hitters. Our three strong hitters are Katie Dempsey, Ansley Tate and Emma Dempsey. All three of these players do a great job of blocking as well, in addition to Camie Terrell, who is currently injured and will be out for a few matches.

Keys to success: “The keys to success to me are the 4 C’s: communication, coverage, confidence and celebration. The players know the fundamentals, but it will take teamwork to find success, which begins with communication. I try to tell the girls that volleyball is a game of errors, and the best way to get over errors is to celebrate and move on. Holding on to a mistake in volleyball is poisonous to the team. Last year, we had several ninth graders on varsity who lacked confidence, but this year, they are understanding their role and the importance of being confident in what they know to do.”

Something special: “What stands out the most about this team is their attitude and excitement. They are excited to practice and to learn, but most of all, we do not have any attitude issues, which is a great accomplishment for a girls’ team. They have set high expectations and work relentlessly to prepare to meet any obstacles that may arise in order to meet our team goals.”

 

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