CENTRE – During her first two years as Cherokee County High School’s volleyball coach, Tiffany Rieger focused on teaching the fundamentals to her fairly young squads.
Now that several of the Lady Warriors have more experience under their belts, Rieger and assistant coach Dusty Cothran’s mentality has changed to speeding up the tempo in preparation for the teams the Lady Warriors play this season.
“The fact that we’ve had so many younger players starting for us, they’ve had that growing period, and seeing those teams like Jacksonville and that caliber of play, they know what to expect,” Rieger said. “Now that we have these younger players a little bit older, I feel like we have the opportunity to speed the game up. That’s what we’ve been trying to do this summer, teach them how to speed the game up.”
Rieger and Cothran have both been encouraged at times this summer by what they’ve seen from the Lady Warriors. They had open gyms twice a week, went to a Munciana volleyball camp, and had play dates at Armuchee in Georgia and the Supreme Courts in Guntersville.
“I saw a lot of improvement in June,” Rieger said. “Dusty and I were real excited about the energy and the growth of the skill level. July was a little hectic, but this week, we’ve been through one week of practice and everything’s been clicking. The energy, the hype, the skill level is getting back to where it was. I feel like if we can take what’s happening at practice and mentally translate that to matches, then I’m excited about what can happen.”
The Lady Warriors have a pair of seniors returning in Kenzie Hunter and Madison Leonard. Hunter played at setter and on the right side last season. Rieger is moving Hunter to the outside this season. Leonard returns as the Lady Warrior libero.
Cherokee County returns its top hitter from last season in junior Ella Garmany. She posted 130 kills, 106 digs, 21 blocks and 21 aces last season.
Garmany, who plays both outside and middle, was pulled up to the varsity as a freshman in Rieger’s first year as head coach. She’s hoping for similar results with her younger sister Raegan Garmany, an eighth grade middle hitter.
Sophomore Anna Walker returns as an outside hitter. Rieger notes sophomore Emilee Paul can play any of the front row spots. Freshman Vivian Connell also returns to the Lady Warrior lineup.
Several other Lady Warriors have been brought up from the junior varsity ranks. Sophomore Aubrie Abernathy will be the Lady Warrior setter. Juniors Crimson Colbert and Karlee Jolly, and sophomore Greenley Robbins are defensive specialists.
Freshman outside hitter Libby Curry played on both the varsity and junior varsity squads last year and is expected to do the same this year. Eighth grader Macy Lea is the junior varsity’s main setter, but should also see time on the varsity when the JV team doesn’t play, as will eighth grader Nevaeh Gaidurgis.
“We may be running a 6-2 (formation) by the end of the season with Macy and Aubrie,” Rieger said. “We’ll see how that goes.”
The Lady Warriors open the season on Aug. 21 in a tournament at Hayden. They compete in Class 4A, Area 9 along with Anniston, Jacksonville and White Plains.
“I feel like our area might be a little more competitive this year than it has been, as far as evening out, but you never know until game day gets here,” Rieger said.
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