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Patriots' goal for season is trip to state

By Staff
Justin Schuver , Hartselle Enquirer
The Brewer Patriots finished 2004 with a 38-24 record, but had the misfortune of being in one of the most competitive areas in the state. They finished third in the area tournament, behind Arab and eventual state champion Huntsville.
"I thought we could finish at least second," Brewer coach Ron Smith said. "We're in Huntsville's area, and we've also got Arab and Scottsboro who are two tough teams."
The Patriots begin 2005 with the goal of making it to the state tournament, despite the loss of one of Mandy Martin to graduation. Martin was an all-Area star at middle hitter, but Smith believes the team has enough depth to replace Martin's production.
"We have a pretty strong junior class," he said. "I think we can be better defensively than we were last year. Our setters are going to have to improve, and we might not be quite as talented hitting-wise."
There are five seniors total on this year's Brewer team, including another all-Area player in middle hitter Cristin Slate. Libero Nichole Hayes and outside hitter Leah Holmes will be two other key seniors for the Patriots.
Slate is returning from ACL surgery, and may not be at 100 percent to start the season. It is the second ACL surgery of her career.
Outside hitter Andrea Crawford, setter Jenny Browning and middle hitter Kayla Amerine are some of the juniors that Smith expects to step in and help the Patriots right away.
"I think our team unity is going to be better," he said. "I think going to the regionals isn't out of reach. If we get to regionals, I think that we have a chance to get as far as the state tournament if things go our way."
In order to get to the regional tournament, Brewer will first have to advance in one of the most competitive areas in the state. And the region isn't a piece of cake, either.
"I think that our area is one of the best in the state," Smith said. "It's going to be hard to get out of our area, and I think our region is going to be tough with Hartselle, Muscle Shoals and some other really good teams."
Brewer opens its season with a match at Priceville Aug. 25. The Pepsi Brewer Invitational Tournament takes place on Aug. 27, and will feature 16 teams including Brewer, Hartselle, Arab and Decatur.
The Patriots' first regular home match is against Hartselle and Arab on Sept. 12.