TRINITY - There can be very little doubt if a ground of hard working young ladies had trouble falling to sleep on Saturday night.
Labor Day is to be celebrated on Monday. Fifteen volleyball teams were laboring all day Saturday in the West Morgan High School volleyball invitational.
The event drew schools representing Cullman, Winston, Morgan, Limestone, Madison, Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties. Half a dozen of the schools entered the weekend with impressive credentials of preseason rankings with one coming to the 3A program located between Decatur and Moulton as a state champion in 2016.
Addison High School passed the test of being challenged all day, winning six matches. The 1A state champion did lose on match to Florence in three sets, but was seeded No. 1 from Pool B. Then they had to go to a tiebreaker against 7th ranked Deshler from Class 4A in the semifinals. After a brief rest, the Lady Bulldogs downed the 4th ranked 4A program in Danville in straight sets.
Talk about laboring. Coach Kayla Woodard's squad competed in 14 sets during six assignments, battling intensity from one play to the next.
Many others had the same experience. This is what I call laboring before Labor Day.
While prep football was in the spotlight for its regular schedule Friday, volleyball, along with cross country opened the 2017 regular season.
Yours truly labored as well. Covering the Pepsi Cross Country Challenge in Moulton at Lawrence County High School, seeing Cold Springs win the small school division. Then arriving in Trinity before 11:00 a.m. and hanging around there through 6:30 p.m. when Good Hope completed its round-robin schedule.
Going from one gymnasium on the West Morgan campus to another nearby, yours truly followed the progress of Addison, Good Hope and Cullman.
Good Hope is under new coach Natasha Holcombe, a former standout athlete at Holly Pond. Cullman has fresh blood on the sidelines in Meagan Cagle, a former volleyballer at Addison.
These athletes deserve recognition as well as the main stay for fall sports, football. Despite fatigue, yours truly labored and reported on the efforts of these three area programs. No other media outlet was seen by yours truly. A percentage of them were dealing with Alabama, Auburn and UAB on the gridiron.
I thought in a different way.
The facilities at West Morgan were air conditioned to make it comfortable for the players, fans, officials, etc. The school also had wifi that allowed me to report on the activities, providing updates through the afternoon.
But of course, the body gave way too. If I had stayed to see Addison play in the semis and finals, that would had been five additional sets and at least two more hours.
Addison has experience back from 2016 in MVP Abbie Chambless, along with Allie Chambless, Brianna Ory, Kendra Tyree Vandiver, Savannah Manley, Destiny Walker and Cecilee Gaither. Depth was a factor on the positive side too, especially when the intensity level reached the ceiling in playing quality programs such as Lexington, Florence, Deshler and Danville.
Cullman fought hard for Cagle, sweeping Russellville and taking down Clements two games to one. The Lady 'Cats finished third in Pool C and left West Morgan with momentum they need into beginning area play on Tuesday at 6A power Albertville.
Anna Evans is back to 100 percent health after tearing her ACL in January during basketball season. She is joined by senior leadership from Paden Adams. The rest of the team is juniors and sophomores with hard working attitudes coming from Emily Apel, A.K. Eastman, Lauren Evans, Anna Murphy and Amanda Hill.
Watching Cullman play Russellville and the three-game set with Clements, the team came together and listened to the advice of their new coach who knows the game of volleyball like the back of her hand.
For Holcombe in her first venue on the varsity sidelines, Good Hope is experienced too, led by All-County outside hitter Kate Kent. Then add the performances of Chrissi Smith, Leyton Seal, Skylar Tucker, Sadie Fendley, Ally Knight and Bridgette Rollins, the Lady Raiders will be a factor among the county competition during the fall.
Good Hope was sharp at times, then erratic from not making good passes to the frontline, hitting the ball too long or into the next. They took Florence to a battle in the first set, falling 26-24. Then too many miscues resulted in Florence running away with the second set.
Holcombe has court sense that she is not putting into the role as a coach. She has been out of high school for three years. She's young in the coaching sense, but showed the purpose of teaching while patrolling the sidelines. Her players seem to understand and consistency will develop from more practice and more important, game assignments.
Playing four assignments in one day is brutal. I'm sure everyone that played in this event will try to relax for a day or so and then return to the floor for regular season games on Tuesday.
But I commend all of these young ladies and their coaches for the labor they displayed in what it means to be celebrating Labor Day on Monday. Thank you.
Photo 1: Cullman Lady Bearcats vs. Russellville.
Photo 2: Good Hope Lady Raiders vs. Lee-Huntsville
Photo 3: Addison Lady Bulldogs vs. Lexington
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton