HANCEVILLE ?Wallace State?s 15th-ranked volleyball team breezed through the regular season, compiling a 49-1 record and winning its third straight regular-season conference championship.
The Lady Lions are now concentrated on defending their Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) tournament championship.
The 2010 Region XXII ACCC tournament begins Friday at Northwest Shoals? Patriot Center. Top-seeded Wallace State has a first-round bye and plays the Northwest Shoals-Snead State winner at noon.
?We are used to getting every team?s best shot. I think that?s what makes us so successful,? said sophomore Jessica Wilburn, the team leader in digs and aces. ?We can?t relax. We want to win as bad as the other teams want to beat us.?
Wilburn and fellow sophomores Kierra Outlin and Skylar Key were each named to the All-Tournament team last year at Gadsden State, and WSCC coach Randy Daniel expects that experience to prove valuable this weekend.
?Our sophomores have the strong attitude and effort to know what it takes to win at this tournament. Just talking with them, you can tell they are excited about playing. Hopefully, that leadership will keep us focused and ready to play,? said Daniel, who is 149-26 in three plus seasons at Wallace State. ?The sophomores are a key because you never know how the freshmen will react to certain situations like this.
Wallace State?s success has hinged on a balanced and deep roster.
Four girls have more than 270 kills this season. Freshman Taulise Dunklin leads the way with 475 followed by Outlin (405), Key (299) and Lesley Bemis (272).
Wilburn?s 622 digs and 98 aces are team highs, Stephanie Andrews leads the club with 808 assists followed by Caelin Light?s 691.
Key, Bemis and Kris Lawson each have more than 150 blocks and Callie Miller has added 291 digs.
?It?s such a comforting feeling to know our team can do so many things in order to be successful and win,? Wilburn said. ?We?ve needed each person on the team this year because of injuries. It?s comforting to know we can still win even when we haven?t been at full strength.?
Wallace State didn?t drop a single set to a conference foe during regular-season play and lost only one set at last year?s tournament, reeling off a pair of wins over Gadsden State and one over Southern Union. Wallace State beat Gadsden State 25-19, 19-25, 25-21, 25-19 in the championship match.
If Wallace State is unbeaten in the tournament, only three wins will separate the Lady Lions from a repeat trip to the national tournament, which is set for Nov. 18-20 at West Plains, Mo.
?I?ve preached it until I?m blue in the face, but our girls have to remember what we?ve done in the past does not matter one bit. Everybody is gunning for you. Our opponents are not going to play us like they have in the past. It?s a mental approach as an underdog. An underdog has nothing to lose and there is no pressure,? Daniel said. ?The thing I like about our team is we seem to get up for the important games, the big games. I do feel our girls will play well. If we play with a lot of energy and emotion, we should be OK.?
The top six teams during regular-season play qualified for the double-elimination event. Remaining participants, in order of seeding, include Gadsden State, Faulkner State, Northwest Shoals, Snead State and Southern Union.
The championship match is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 Direct line: 256-352-8443
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu