Albany’s volleyball team finished runner-up in District 6-2A a year ago, but the Lady Lions caught fire in the playoffs, advancing all the way to the state semifinals. Albany reeled off postseason wins over Miles, Plains and Wink before falling in three games to eventual state champion Crawford.
Albany returns four starters and nine letter winners from last year’s team that posted a 23-5 record. Coach Melissa Reneau believes her team’s strong upperclassmen and the experience gained in last year’s postseason could mean another deep playoff run for the Lady Lions.
Sarah Beth Cotter, a 6-foot junior middle blocker, led the team in kills and hitting percentage a year ago. Middle blocker Allison Hill and outside hitter Tristen Brown, along with Cotter, give Albany experience on the front line.
Surrounded by those talented hitters, junior setter Clara Holson is the player who “stirs the drink for the Lady Lions’ attack,” according to Reneau.
“Clara Holson does a good job of running a quick offense and connecting with our hitters,” Reneau stated. “She is very coachable and is always working hard to get better and stronger.”
Holson averaged 23.4 assists, 4.9 digs and two aces per game last season as the top setter in District 6-2A.
Albany edged Miles in five sets in the area round last season to avenge a loss to the same team a year earlier. Cotter had two of her team-high six aces and Hill, who led Albany with 17 kills, had four in the decisive set. Cotter followed with 15 kills.
Reneau’s biggest concern, however, is the loss of last season’s defensive specialists.