“This award is really a culmination of my coaching staff, players and I’ve had two different administrations—the new administration bought in,” Smith said. “They bought in to volleyball; whenever you want to have success in sports, your administration has to buy in. They can’t just verbally buy in; they have to physically do some things. They were very supportive. They were physically at the volleyball games and did things to try to help me promote it. The Coach of the Year award not only goes to me, it goes to my coaching staff, the administration, and it goes to our school. We had pep rallies for volleyball. That’s unheard of, but only if you’re not at a volleyball school. My administration was open to a lot of great ideas. They allowed us to do some things. In order to be a successful coach, you have to have the time to put into your craft. I do try to put a lot of work into the game of volleyball. Volleyball is very fun. Coach of the Year is a huge honor for me to have. I want to say thank you to my peers that they recognized me for it. Next year is going to be a little different, but we enjoyed this year.”
Six of the team’s players were seniors this past season. Seniors Jasmine Richardson and Tiffany Vincent earned first-team All-County honors, while senior Chanel Phillips earned an honorable selection. Smith said he was proud of the determination shown by his senior players throughout the season.
“This group of seniors, which included four basketball players playing volleyball this year, really had resilient moments,” Smith said. “We won by two points against Linden to advance past the field of 32 and then we won by two points against Brantley to qualify for state. Four points is a swing of whether we go or not. The seniors this year really played in a more mature manner. They were doing a lot of things before practice, after practice to put us in those situations. They attempted a hard schedule: we played Sacred Heart, who was ranked; Alexandria, which is a very strong program; and we played Clay Central and a few others. Our County Tournament is extremely tough.”
Smith was especially grateful to be given the award after only being head coach in volleyball for two years at Winterboro.
“This award probably means the most to me because it came in a sport which I don’t have much experience in as far as coaching,” he said. “I’ve been around it, I’ve always known the basics, I know transition volleyball, but to put a junior and senior group together to come up with all this success—and there are some coaches here in this county who do a way better job than me—for me to receive this success, I’m really just speechless.”
Sylacauga’s Hayden Stewart earned Player of the Year. The senior led the Lady Aggies in total blocks with 34 on the season.
The Lady Aggies finished runner-up in Class 5A Area 10, which qualified them for the North Super Regional where they were eliminated by Southside-Gadsden.
Taniya Garrett was also selected to the All-County first team. Mollie Medine, Brenlee Richardson, and Lindsey Parnell were chosen as honorable mention selections.
The Class 5A Area 10 champion and 2013 Talladega County champs were the Talladega Lady Tigers. Jannie Keith took over the team this season and guided them to an area championship after the team hadn’t qualified for Sub-Regionals since 2007 and also ended Lincoln’s six-year reign as County champs with a win against the Lady Golden Bears in the County Tournament championship game.
“I think the girls did really, really well this year in winning the County Tournament,” Keith said. “It’s been several years since we were in the area. So, they did real well, and they worked hard to accomplish those goals. One thing about them I noticed this year: they set goals. It was predominantly the same girls for the last four years because I had about five seniors on this team this year. Experience should be a good teacher. I think it paid because most of them had been playing together for the last four or five years. They started at junior high with me in the seventh and eighth grade. We had a great season. We’re grateful to the community for supporting us in every effort that we sought out, and we’re hoping to have great things in the future.”
County Tournament MVP Makia Tuck earned a first team All-County selection.
“We knew that if we had a good set to Makia she was going to be able to put that ball on the floor,” Keith said. “She elevates so high; her vertical leap is so high, it was up there. Any time we had the set right for her, she was going to put it in the floor. She deserved to be the MVP. Not only that, but she would be on my back row. She’s the best passer I had. She had the whole package.”
Sheleshia Truss also earned a first team selection.
“Sheleshia Truss became a great blocker,” Keith said. “She was the lady at the net. She was all over that net. If I had her on the front row, she would be the single person up at the net blocking; I didn’t have two. She would be my second blocker. She became awesome at the net. She became a great server; she improved with her serving skill also.”
Shemeshia Truss earned an honorable mention selection.
“Shemeshia Truss was my setter,” Keith said. “I impressed in her head that she was a quarterback and if she didn’t give a good pass, then we were not able to go into the end zone. My hat is tipped to Shemeshia because she did a great job of being a setter.”
Alexis McKinney and Alexis Morgan rounded out Talladega’s All-County selections, earning honorable mention.
Fayetteville finished runner-up in Class 1A Area 7, earning a spot in the South Super Regional in Montgomery where they were eliminated by Akron.
Eireonia Sanders and Mackenzie Pennington earned first-team selections, while Catherine Nelson and Maesa Thacker earned honorable mention selections.
Munford defeated rival Lincoln to reach the North Super Regional where they were eliminated by Madison County.
Kierra Groce and TeAsia Cunningham earned first-team honors, while Jaime Sweet, Kedra Curtis and Laycee Sherbert were chosen as honorable mention selections.
Lincoln, who finished runner-up in the County Tournament to Talladega, had Shelbi White earn first-team honors and Katelyn Bean and Clancy Carlisle received honorable mention.
Childersburg and ASD both had three selections. LaKnea Malone and Cierra Swain were first-team selections and Tia Wells was an honorable mention selection for Childersburg. Tuesdae Dunklin earned a first-team selection and TeChana Dunklin and Ashley Laster earned honorable mention selections for ASD.
For Comer, Keiara Seals earned a first-team selection and Shernelia Cook earned honorable mention.
For TC Central, Tiarrial Duncan earned first-team honors and Savona Garrett earned honorable mention.
The All-County volleyball team was chosen by Talladega county volleyball coaches.