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PHOTO BY BRANNON KING The Lady Golden Tigers wave to their fans as they are introduced at Meet the Tigers last week.

Russellville volleyball looks to put name on map this season

In a school full of athletic success, at times it has seemed like the Russellville volleyball team has taken a back seat. 

This year, that changes.

“Everybody doubts us and says, ‘Oh, volleyball’s not even a sport at Russellville,’” said senior Lexie Glass. “We go and support everyone, but they don’t come support us – but this year they are going to see.”

After an area loss ended the Golden Tigers’ season last year, the girls decided they were not happy with a 12-26 record and began working to make the 2019 season one to remember.

“We are going to give people something to see because this is our year,” Glass said. “We are chasing greatness.”

Chasing greatness is the Golden Tigers’ motto for this year, with the smaller goal of making it to regionals and the bigger goal of winning a state championship.

“That banner up there that says ‘State Volleyball Champions,’” Glass said, pointing to the banner hanging in the gym. “It is going to say 2019 under it. That is where I’m headed.”

The Golden Tigers have learned from last year’s mistakes and are working to communicate better, hustle and ensure all of the little things come together.

“I think the way that they felt at the end of the season last year, they are going to remember that feeling, and they don’t want to feel like that again,” said head coach Whitney Glover.

Glass said last year the team played its best game of the season in the first game of the area tournament against West Point, but the Golden Tigers lost the remaining matches to end the season because they lost mental focus.

Senior Callie Palmer said in practice the team has come together to ensure Russellville does not make the same mistakes this year.

“All of the little things will help us reach those bigger goals, like beating Lawrence County or beating West Point,” Palmer said.

Senior Alivia Clemmons said last year the team focused on individual goals and had a tough time recovering from mistakes, but this year they are doing a better job of coming together and encouraging one another.

“If we mess up at one thing, we’ve just got to let it go and keep going,” Clemmons said. “You can’t dwell on that – and we’re learning now to pick each other up instead of pointing fingers.”

Senior Briana Ramirez said the team is focusing on working hard in practice to improve so it can be at peak performance come game time.

“In practice we really have to go harder if we feel like we aren’t getting there in games,” Ramirez said.

The Golden Tigers returned five starters from last year’s season, and Glover said she is impressed how her players have stepped up to fill empty spots, such as Palmer and Glass filling the position of middle hitter.

She said Ramirez will play a big role as libero, and she anticipates younger players Caroline Sparks, Leah Rushing and Chalea Clemmons will be valuable to the team.

“I’m really positive about what we have this year,” Glover said. “I think we’re really going to be able to play some volleyball this year.”

Russellville will begin its season Aug. 27 in a tri-match at Russellville against Phillips and Deshler.