Back row Left to right: Julie Beavers , Peyton Montgomery, Claudia Miller and Madison Nichols. Second row left to right: Alex Walling, Renie Shedd and Alyzea Aguero. Bottom row: Heather Wilson and Brooklyn Melson.

Lady Devils ready to take step forward

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

The Falkville Lady Blue Devils are preparing for the upcoming 2017 season, and optimism is high. Head coach Meaghan Gray is entering her second season and she is hoping to lead the Blue Devils even farther, after making a trip to super regionals last year.

Falkville will have to replace some key players from last year’s team including their middle, outside hitters, libero and setter. Gone from last year’s team are Bailey Engle, Emily Hill, Katelyn Widner and Brooke Alexander. Falkville will have some players returning though. Alex Walling is expected to take over at libero, while Brooklyn Melson and Renie Shedd will play at setter. “Every player on the team really needs to step up and fill a position because we lost so many starters,” said coach Meaghan Gray. Gray is hoping that the experience her returning starters gained from playing in super regionals will help them lead the team this year. “Our three returners all got to experience super regionals, so they know the expectations to get back there,” Gray said. “They also felt the pressure that comes with post season play and can help prepare the ones that have not been there.”

Falkville will have to rely on solid back row play and good timing up front for blocks to make up for their lack of height. Good communication and teamwork will also be important. “The girls this year are extremely hardworking and communicate well together. Everyone has been given new roles to fill this year and they are picking it up quick,” Gray said. “We have very few girls with varsity experience, so as the year progresses I would like to see them adjust to the fast pace of varsity that is hard to replicate in practice.”

Falkville’s schedule this year won’t be very forgiving. The Blue Devils play in a very tough area and also just happen to play in one of the toughest counties in North Alabama. “We gave ourselves a challenging schedule this season, all the Morgan County teams are strong, so anytime you play one of them you know it is going to be a battle. We also scheduled a lot of big schools out of Huntsville we haven’t seen before,” said Gray. “Our biggest competition, of course, is our area teams. At the end of the day, those are the games that truly matter. Every game of the season up to area play is just to prepare the girls.”

Achieving better success than last year won’t come easy, but Gray likes what she sees out of this team. “Our girls have a long road when it comes to gaining experience quickly and learning new roles that change constantly,” Gray said. “But these are some of the of the hardest-working kids I have been around. They are willing to do what it takes to get better and have a ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude. That’s all I can ask for as a coach.”

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