By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It has taken two full weeks but it was finally time for the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebel Volleyball team to make their home debut.
Under the lights of the TRA Gymnasium, Aug. 30 was finally the day for Head Coach Amy Weatherington’s squad to hit the court in front of home fans. The 2021 season hasn’t been going according to plans with a first week shutdown because of a COVID outbreak within the program.
The visit from the FACS Lady Crusaders marked the second game of the season for the youthful Lady Rebels. Showing some fight in the opening set, TRA went down eventually to FACS 25-18. Then the Lady Crusaders seized control of the next two sets to prevail 25-9 and 25-11.
“They’re very young – only one senior,” Weatherington said of her team. “We had someone get quarantined right before our match today. It’s been a super roller coaster. COVID is kicking us this year. It’s hard for us mentally to overcome things like that. I think we let it get into our heads today.”
FACS’ path to its first win over the Lady Rebels in several years started with a spike from Hannah Duggar and aces from Alina Gatlin to jump ahead 5-1.
TRA rallied back to eventually tie the opening set at 6-6 courtesy of a Lydia Harvey kill. The Lady Crusaders regrouped behind a Taylor Moss ace to make the score 8-6.
Trailing 10-6, Harvey struck again scoring a point to snap the FACS momentum.
After FACS jumped ahead 13-9, TRA fought back again to within one point. The Lady Crusaders, featuring seven seniors, followed the lead of libero Hannah Coleman to pace themselves to victory.
With a couple of highlight plays from Melanie McCord, the Lady Crusaders outscored TRA 12-6 down the stretch to win the first set 25-18.
In the next two sets, Duggar commanded the backrow and executed digs to prevent the Lady Rebels from scoring. Meanwhile players like Duggar scored in a variety of ways to lead FACS to wins by 16 and 14 points respectively.
“I coached two of them in club this year,” Weatherington noted. “I think this is the best FACS team it has ever had. They’re very well coached with (James Onikeku) JO. I think they have a great libero. She’s just fantastic.”
Weatherington said her team just making it to the court against FACS was fantastic. She said the challenges of August will provide her squad with growing pains for success down the road.
“I have to figure that out honestly,” she acknowledged. “The fact that they are so young, that senior spirit, that fight seniors have we just don’t have that this year. Putting it on one person’s shoulder is a lot to ask.
“The juniors are pretty much our leaders because the senior we have this year didn’t play last year,” Weatherington concluded. “Brand new senior, so the juniors and the senior are kind of our leader. There is just so much you can do when you have freshmen and sophomores on the floor as well.”