“The goals that we set at the beginning of the year set some visuals as far as we wanted,” Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith said. “I don’t know how well the girls quite believed that they will be in the Sweet 16 of the volleyball tournament, but we got there. We had some upsets and downs. The girls have to learn how become mentally tough. They had some mentally tough times where they overcame and failed at the same time. Really, at the end of the day the girls progressed as a volleyball team. They looked like more of a volleyball team this year, and they grew confidence like a volleyball team this year. I really think all the way up until today, our program has put itself in the position to be talked about when it comes time to talk about some of the best volleyball in the area and county.”
In the first round of the tournament on Friday, the Lady Bulldogs defeated Red Level (25-15, 25-14, 26-24). The victory was Winterboro’s first ever win in the Regional Tournament.
“From my research, Winterboro has never made it past the first round of the volleyball playoffs, Smith said. We advanced to the Sweet 16 this year and that was a first time. Sometimes you have teams that overachieve their own expectations. I just have to implement the same type of technique I did for basketball where we get to certain points in our life. In volleyball the talent is already here, so I have some ideas. We are going to beef up our schedule up next year. We going travel a little more and get into more tournaments. We are going to play more volleyball games and hopefully, we can have a junior high team as well.”
The Lady Bulldogs are only losing two seniors from this season’s team that went 18-8.
“I am losing seniors Kaylen Barclay and Ashley Nicks,” Smith said. “Ashley Nicks was a starter and she was one of my best servers. Her serve consistently went over the net and they were very tough to defend at times. It wasn’t necessarily because they were powerful serves, it was just sometimes her balls go into a zigzag motion and they were very consistent. We are definitely going to miss her.”
Smith will have several players returning next season that he believe are dedicated to the game of volleyball.
“Tamirra Johnson and Chanel Phillips are two of my setters that I think are going to be committed to going to camp to get better,” Smith said. “Chanel makes some good plays at different times in the game. Sometimes you really don’t know what to expect out of her. Tamirra Johnson is the one we have that has topspin, so they are always dropping past the net. Our area tournament MVP, Brittany McGhee is going to be committed as well. We are looking for her and Tiffany Vincent a travel AAU team right now, because they have aspirations of getting to the next level. Those girls are true volleyball players. They don’t just play the game. We have Jasmine Richardson and she is an overall athlete.”
Smith and the Bulldogs were very successful this season and he is looking to take a step further next season.
“We had some big wins against Talladega County Central,” Smith said. “We won the area tournament for first time since 2001. We had some huge wins against Childersburg and Lincoln. That was the best volleyball I have seen our girls play in four years. I have never seen the girls play that good and we were fortunate enough to give Lincoln their first regular season loss. Now, it is about next year and putting it all together consistently. These girls believe in their volleyball program now. They know that I am not just a basketball coach; I am a volleyball coach as well. I implemented a volleyball program; I never mixed the two. I think they have grown to appreciate what I’ve been able to bring to the table and I appreciate what they have done as far as putting us in this situation. We are trying to get to the Elite 8 next year.”
Fayetteville posted a 16-5 regular season record and defeated Brantley in the first round of the tournament 25-18, 14-25, 25-20, 11-25, 15-12. They lost to Jefferson Christian in the second round 25-14, 25-16, 25-21.
Akron lost to Jefferson Christian in the consolation round of the tournament. Donoho defeated Sacred Heart for the South Region championship.