Lincoln High School will play host to the first volleyball media day for schools in Talladega County today beginning at 9 a.m.
The Lady Golden Bears will be the first to field questions regarding the upcoming season. Winterboro, Sylacauga, B.B. Comer, Alabama School for the Deaf, Munford, Talladega, Fayetteville and Childersburg will also participate.
As of Tuesday evening, Talladega County Central had not confirmed whether it would send any representatives to participate.
The high school volleyball season begins in mid-to-late August and runs to the end of October or early November.
Each team competes primarily against opponents in a three-to-five team area within its respective classification, with the area champions and runners-up qualifying for super regional play.
To qualify for the state tournament, teams must win at least two consecutive matches in the super regional tournament. The remaining tournament matches determine both state tournament seeding and the super regional champion.
Sylacauga, Munford, Lincoln, TC Central, Winterboro and Fayetteville each qualified for super regionals in 2018. The Lady Wolves were the only team among the half-dozen to reach state.
Looking forward to the 2019 season, here are four storylines to watch:
Can Fayetteville return to state?
The Lady Wolves (23-6) cruised past Thorsby and Central Coosa to capture a Class 2A, Area 8 championship last fall, then scored victories over Luverne and New Brockton (25-16, 25-11, 13-25, 22-25, 15-7) in the South Super Regional Tournament to clinch a state berth.
Fayetteville’s journey came to a close after a quarterfinal sweep at the hands of perennial powerhouse and eventual 2A state champion Addison (25-11, 25-7, 25-6).
Entering the 2019 season, Fayetteville will be without five seniors from its state tournament squad: Emily Price, Haley Hay, Kennedy Hamilton, Madison Green and Presley Shaw.
Lady Wolves head coach Andrea Pennington will have to lean on rising seniors Abby Reed, Randi Davis and Sarah Sherbert as the trio shifts into leadership roles.
How will Lincoln replace departing senior Kristen Woods?
For a third straight season, the Lady Golden Bears (37-16) won an area title by defeating Cleburne County and advanced to the second round of super regionals. Lincoln’s 2018 squad featured three seniors: Kristen Woods, Bre’shayla Hill and Marchell Pearson.
A sweep by Danville (25-14, 25-10, 25-13) brought Lincoln’s season to a halt and closed the final chapter of Woods’ high school career.
Woods, a two-time Daily Home Player of the Year and first-team all-state selection, generated plenty of production for Lincoln with 320 kills, 357 digs, 113 assists and 77 aces as she helped guide the team to a Sweet 16 appearance.
Fortunately for the Lady Golden Bears, their 2019 squad features seven seniors, with many obtaining much-needed experience as Lincoln battled through injuries en route to the postseason a year ago.
Lincoln head coach Patty Hansen will need those seniors, led by Taylor Lett, to step up to the net and defend their court as the Lady Golden Bears try to build on their success and defend both their area title and county championship.
Can Sylacauga head coach Lauren Blocker push the Lady Aggies further in her second season?
In Blocker’s first season at the helm, the Lady Aggies (22-12) took home an area title in 5A and defeated Bibb County in super regionals to advance to the Sweet 16.
But Sylacauga fell one match short of securing a state berth with a loss to Satsuma (25-8, 25-12, 25-13).
The Lady Aggies also have unfinished business in the county tournament, and it could very well be Sylacauga and Lincoln battling for the crown once again.
Sylacauga must replace six seniors from its squad a year ago, but Blocker has the benefit of coaching one of the more consistent programs in the county. A return to super regionals is not out of the question.
Which team can get over the first-round super regional hurdle?
Winterboro, TC Central and Munford all advanced to the first round of super regionals, but none of them reached the Sweet 16.
The Lady Bulldogs (12-11) were the only team of the three to reach super regionals by winning an area title. Winterboro fell to Heritage Christian Academy in four sets (25-19, 20-25, 25-20, 25-14).
Winterboro coaxed boys and girls basketball coach Sheroderick Smith back into volleyball coaching duties after two years away from the sport. In 2013, he led the team to a state tournament appearance.
The Lady Lions (13-10) also avoided a sweep and put together the best showing of the trio. Munford exited super regionals with a loss to Central-Tuscaloosa (25-20, 19-25, 25-17, 25-20).
The Lady Fighting Tigers (6-14) suffered a sweep courtesy of Spring Garden (25-16, 25-14, 25-15) in super regionals.
The good news for all three teams? Everybody’s 0-0, for now.