Lady Tigers looking for another title

By Staff
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
The hardest thing to do in sports is repeating a title-winning season.
For the Hartselle volleyball team, repeating as area champions may be a tough task. First, the Lady Tigers lost five seniors to graduation. Next, the AHSAA moved Hartselle into a new area. The area includes state powerhouse Muscle Shoals.
Lady Tiger coach Tanya Lybarger knows first hand how good the Lady Trojans are.
"They're a very impressive team," Lybarger said. "We went to team camp at The University of Alabama and out of 30 teams they came in second place during the tournament. We came in seventh place."
The other two schools making up the Lady Tiger's new area are Athens and Russellville.
Lybarger's team lost two outside hitters, two right side hitters and a defensive specialist to graduation after a 41-18 season in 2003 that saw Hartselle take the area title. The Lady Tigers finished third in the region tournament, just missing out on qualifying for the state tournament.
Lybarger welcomes back three returning starters off last year's squad. All three were named All-State. Senior Sarah McNutt, who led the Lady Tigers in kills, was named second team All-State. Senior Sarah Whitlow, who led the team in assists, joined McNutt on the second team. Junior Shan Jones was named honorable mention All-State.
Two other girls who saw playing time last season also return, junior Jenna Weatherford and sophomore Kayla Orr are both back and looking to break into the starting lineup.
Lybarger, who led Hartelle to its first area title ever last season, feels her team's strength is blocking at the net, but she hopes to see her team's passing improve as the season progresses.
Hartselle begins play on Aug. 28 at the Brewer. They open home play on Sept. 7 when they host Russellville.

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