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RCS volleyball hosts summer playdates

Russellville’s middle school, JV and varsity volleyball teams have been hard at it since the early part of June, and this week the girls will put themselves to the test with two full days of playdates today and tomorrow, July 13 and 14.

At the Russellville Middle School, RCS teams and other teams from the Northwest Alabama area will take it to the net for some pre-season action. Coaches said these summer playdates are vital to see where the girls are in terms of readiness and to help direct practices going forward.

At the high school level, Coach Charlotte Dollar at Russellville High School is still determining who her varsity team will comprise.

“We’re excited that we have some new faces in the program,” Dollar said. “Our seniors will play varsity for sure, and we have a couple of young players who are moving up from the middle school – at least one who might make it all the way to varsity.”

Players are already focusing in on the importance of playing together as a team.

“We’ve lost a lot of seniors,” explained senior Madison Laymon.

“We were really close, so the seniors are adjusting a lot to working with the sophomores and juniors,” added MaKayla Phifer. “If we push ourselves, I’m pretty sure we’ll go pretty far.”

Coach Gayla Mills said a greater focus on conditioning will be an advantage for the team this year, and the team will also benefit from several athletes who have kept their game up by playing club ball and travel ball.

At the middle school level, Coach Bridgette Smith said she is seeing strong skills exhibited by her young athletes, many of whom have played Parks and Recreation volleyball.

“With the city having a volleyball program, some of the fourth, fifth and sixth graders are playing,” Smith said. “It’s really good because they have an idea of how the game works.” Coach Marlena Jones coaches the seventh graders, and Smith coaches the eighth grade team. “As a whole group, I think they are understanding it’s volleyball time. It’s work time,” Smith said.

Tori Bradley is also helping with the volleyball program this year as a volunteer. Dollar said every member of the coaching staff is excellent.

Wednesday playdate games will pit middle school teams against each other from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Russellville Middle will play Haleyville at 9 a.m., Colbert County at 9:30 a.m., Belgreen at 10 a.m., Hamilton at 11 a.m., Haleyville at 11:30 a.m. and Phillips at 11:30 a.m., Colbert County at 12:30 p.m. and Belgreen at 1 p.m., with action on two courts. Belgreen will also play Phillips at 9 a.m., Colbert County at 11 a.m. and Haleyville at noon.

Thursday games will see varsity and JV teams facing off, with RHS varsity playing Haleyville at 9 a.m., Hamilton at 10:30 a.m., Guin at noon, Winfield at 3 p.m. and Hatton at 4:30 p.m. RHS JV will play Hamilton at 9:30 a.m., Guin at 1 p.m., Haleyville at 2 p.m., Colbert County at 3:30 p.m. and Winfield at 4 p.m.

Tharptown and Belgreen will also play in varsity action at the playdates Thursday, with Belgreen facing Guin at 9:30 a.m., Hamilton at 1 p.m. and Phillips at 2:30 p.m. and Tharptown playing Phillips at 10 a.m., Haleyville at 1:30 p.m. and Hamilton at 3:30 p.m. Tharptown and Belgreen will face off against each other at 11:30 a.m.

All games will take place at the Russellville Middle School gym. Admission is $5, and concessions will be available for sale, as will T-shirts ($12).