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Belgreen Volleyball reaches "Sweet Sixteen" and set new goals
Posted On:
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Front Row: L to R 4 Seniors Ana Castillo; Shellie Barber; Brianna Wood; Anna Humphries.  Back row L to R:  Assistant Coach Tressa Bragwell; Kaycee Wilson; Bailey Wood; Callie Barber; Katie Dempsey; Emma Dempsey; Ansley Tate; Autumn Bragwell; Gracie Dempsey; Camie Terrell; Bailey Oliver; Head Coach Teresa Whitten
Front Row: L to R 4 Seniors Ana Castillo; Shellie Barber; Brianna Wood; Anna Humphries. Back row L to R: Assistant Coach Tressa Bragwell; Kaycee Wilson; Bailey Wood; Callie Barber; Katie Dempsey; Emma Dempsey; Ansley Tate; Autumn Bragwell; Gracie Dempsey; Camie Terrell; Bailey Oliver; Head Coach Teresa Whitten

Head Coach Teresa Whitten was told, her 2nd year in the sport and 1st Super Regional appearance, to expect it to take "at least 10 years to build a championship team!"  This coming from another head coach who had been coaching for several years and knew the ends and outs of building a program up to be championship contenders.  Whitten, completing her 5th year last Thursday, is well on her way to achieving such a goal within that 10 year mark!

The Lady Bulldogs began the season in the summer with playdates, practices, and several role changes.  Hitters, setters, passers, and servers were all subject to being responsible for learning and performing new tasks.  It was a time for Coach Whitten to reflect on her team and what was strong, what was lacking, and what could remain and what needed to be changed.  The season came and her Lady Bulldogs put to action the hard work and changed roles to the test.  Beating a very good, and soon to be state ranked team, Shoals Christian would be the first "first" of the record setting year Whitten and her team would achieve.  

  • First team to beat 3A competition
  • First team to be nominated for the Top Ten teams in Alabama
  • First team with an winning record (16-14)
  • First team to beat a ranked opponent
  • First team to be a "Sweet Sixteen" qualifier
  • First team to have a player nominated, and the winner, of AL.com's "North Alabama Volleyball Player of the Week" honor
  • First team to achieve the most wins in a single season

The team experienced its fair share of up’s AND down’s.  Winning area was a goal that was set by each player in the preseason and that would be a goal that would not be achieved by this year’s Varsity team.  Area opponent, and state ranked, Phillips would defeat the Bulldogs in each contest they faced the Lady Bears.  They would experience close and heart breaking losses to Waterloo, Central, out of state contender Tishimingo County, and 4A competition Rogers. 

The Bulldogs fell short in their opening set against the Berry High School Lady Wildcats.  After losing that set 14-25, the ladies shook off the nerves of the atmosphere –which some had never experienced before- and came in strong in the following 3 sets, winning 25-22 / 25-20 / and 25-23.

Moments after winning the 4th set against Area 9 winner Berry, Whitten heard one of her players utter a very strong sentiment felt by every player, fan, and parent present at this year’s Super Regional Tournament: 

"This is the best feeling ever!" is what I heard when we won the first round at Super-regionals for the very first time. This was such an accurate statement. I am so proud of the girls in all they have accomplished this year. We had so many "firsts" which sets the expectations for next year even higher. A lot of times, teams reach goals like we have but are loaded with seniors who start and play the whole match. At one time, we had 4 freshmen and 2 sophomores on the court playing and holding their own against the North Regional Champions, Decatur Heritage. This is exciting because I know that the girls will work to go even further next year. We have so much talent and because the girls are willing to listen and to trust what I tell them, our future is really bright.”

Whitten is super proud of how her players performed at this year’s Super Regional tournament.  She recounts "Senior, Ana Castillo, led the team in kills with 19 and fellow senior Shellie Barber had 28 digs.  Katie Dempsey, freshman, had 15 kills, 11 digs, 2 blocks and 6 aces. Freshman, Autumn Bragwell had 4 kills, 14 digs, 31 assists, and 3 aces. Freshman Bailey Wood, who had completed the JV season and then moved up to Varsity, had 22 digs.  Two sophomores, Kaycee Wilson and Camie Terrell, helped the team defensively and several other players really stepped up and helped the team as well."  Whitten expresses “we are losing 4 seniors who were sad as we lost to Decatur Heritage, but they set the bar really high for the years to follow, and left a legacy for girls to follow in the years to come. I would like to say a special thanks to all our fans for their support this year, the ones who helped with stats, my assistant who keeps me calm, and my husband and son who have to endure my obsessive volleyball disorder.”

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