Arab Lady Knights

From left, front, are Jacey Wood, Sami Kate Hudson, Bennett Elrod, Anna McFerrin, Heather Skelton, Mollie Bishop, Addison Harrell and Marissa Pope; back: Sydney Ferguson, Laney Kelley, Karli Walker, Camilla Jane Burke and Lexi Mann.

Headed into the season-opening Juanita Boddie Tournament in Hoover this past weekend, Arab volleyball coach Amy Hudson was very high on her team’s prospects for the new season.

Two wins and four losses later, she still is.

Four strong senior leaders and other experienced players can give a coach a lot of optimism. It doesn’t hurt that they’re all hard workers.

“There is a lot of excitement going into this season with these four seniors and their teammates,” Hudson said. “We have about half of our starters back from last year and more that received above average playing time so overall we have a pretty experienced team.”

The seniors are Karli Waker, Anna McFerrin, Heather Skelton and Mollie Bishop. Others on the roster are juniors: Sydney Ferguson, Sami Kate Hudson, Laney Kelley, Marissa Pope, Jacey Wood, Camilla Jane Burke, Lexi Mann, Bennett Elrod and Addison Harrell.

The varsity lost to McGill-Toolen and Northridge on Friday, then split four games on Saturday. The Lady Knights defeated Austin, lost to Lewisburg, Tenn., defeated Southside and lost to Homewood.

“We lost to four really good teams,” Hudson said. “I was encouraged to know that every game was a close game in spite of the fact that we didn’t play our best, playing the caliber teams that we will have to be able to beat to get to where we want to be by the end of the season.

“Playing those teams exposed the areas that we have to improve on, which is a good thing early in the season. We did beat Austin and Southside and, of course, felt good about that. We are looking forward to another tough tournament this upcoming weekend in Vestavia Hills with more great teams. Our goal is to improve this week and see a difference in us from last weekend to next weekend.”

On Tuesday, Arab played at Albertville in its first regular-season match, defeating the host team 25-19, 25-19.

The JV team lost a couple of heartbreakers, first to Guntersville (22-25, 25-20, 10-15) then to Albertville (28-26, 21-25, 13-15).

Hudson notes the Lady Knights lost quite a bit to graduation but that has just opened opportunities for others.

“There are big shoes to be filled from the seniors we lost and choosing who is going to take on that responsibility is an ongoing decision that has to be made,” she said. “We have five defensive players fighting for those positions and they are not making the decision easy on me for sure.

“This team has such a high ceiling. It is exciting to imagine what they could accomplish. It’s all right there at their fingertips if they continue to work.

“We are coming off of a great summer. These girls worked so hard in the weight room and on the court from late May until now and I have no doubt that their hard work is going to pay off.”

The team also has some intangibles, Hudson said.

“They have the chemistry, the desire, the work ethic, and they are working every day on the mental part of the game,” she said. “I’ve never been a part of a team who worked harder.

“Our goal is to continue to get better every week so that come October, we are ready to fight whoever we meet to accomplish our goals.

“There’s nobody I’d rather take into battle with me than this group. And we are ready.”

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