Simmons, Lybarger headline All-Area team
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
Danville’s Lauren Simmons has amassed accolades and records throughout her varsity career. Add another one to the list — she is this year’s Hartselle Enquirer All-Area Player of the Year, the second straight year she has earned the honor.
Also headlining the Enquirer’s All-Area team as Coach of the Year is Hartselle’s Tanya Lybarger, who took the Lady Tigers to their first Elite Eight in school history. Hartselle finished the season with a 49-15 record and were the Area 13 and Region D region champions. The Lady Tigers advanced to the state semifinal against Briarwood Christian before falling in three games.
Joining Simmons on the first team are her Danville teammate Bethany Evans, Brewer’s Andrea Crawford and Michelle Tillman and Hartselle’s Mary Virginia Reeves and Lauren Drake.
This year’s team was one of the most talented in recent memory, with several players putting up numbers worthy of Player of the Year mention. Three schools advanced to the Elite Eight, with Danville accomplishing the feat for the second-straight season.
Simmons narrowly takes the top honor over Drake and Crawford, who were also nominated on at least one coach’s ballot. The Danville senior finished the 2006 season with 1,036 kills, ranking her third all-time on the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s list for kills in a season. She is also the second-place holder on that record list, after finishing with 1,255 kills in 2005.
In a game against Colbert County, Simmons finished with 52 kills and broke her old single-match record of 47, which she set at the 2005 Elite Eight against Winston County. She also had 41 kills in a match against Good Hope this season.
For her career, Simmons finished with 2,790 kills, a mark that makes her the new AHSAA career kills leader. Dora’s Kimber Holt, who amassed 2,488 kills from 2002-05, held the previous record.
Simmons contributed more than just offense, however. She also had 105 aces, 132 blocks and 177 digs for the Lady Hawks, who have amassed a record of 140-60 over the last three seasons and have won both their area and region championships the last two seasons.
Drake and Crawford also had standout seasons for their respective teams. Drake finished the year with 561 kills, 357 digs and 60 blocks for a Hartselle team that had a 49-15 record. Crawford led the Lady Patriots with 728 kills and 149 aces, while also putting up big numbers with 208 blocks and 260 digs. Brewer finished the 2006 season with a 34-18 record and, like Hartselle, advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
Evans adds her name to the list with 1,294 assists this season, combining with Simmons to form a lethal offensive combination all year long. She added 134 aces, 204 kills and 266 digs for the Lady Hawks, who finished 54-24 in 2006.
Middle hitter Reeves combined with outside hitter Drake to give Hartselle a dominating offensive presence all season long. Reeves finished the season with 531 kills, 151 blocks, 71 aces and 64 digs.
Tillman fills out the first team after finishing with a solid offensive year for Brewer. She had 462 kills and 126 blocks in 52 matches.
Named to the second team were Danville’s Alaina Fitzgerald and Kassie Cowart, Hartselle’s Kayla Orr and Emily Roden and Brewer’s Megan Hormel and Kayla Amerine.
Honorable mentions were Falkville’s Laura Holladay, Danville’s Magen Linderman and Kirby Wallace and Brewer’s Krista Hughes, Courtney Scott and Kendra Jones.