Russellville ladies get first volleyball win of season with new head coach

The Russellville Golden Tigers are starting the volleyball season under the leadership of a new head coach as the program looks to develop consistency at a high level of play on the court.

William White brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Russellville team as he enters his first season as head coach of the Golden Tigers. White comes to RHS after serving as an assistant at Baylor University. Before joining the staff at Baylor, he was an assistant at the University of North Alabama and Blue Mountain College in Mississippi. White also spent time as the head coach at Ohio Valley University.

The Russellville squad has been hard at work learning from White and his assistant coaches, and the group has adopted the motto of “One Way” as the team heads into the 2023 season.

“We always talk about ‘One Way’ in our program,” White said of the goal and key emphasis of the team. “We talk about that standard being really high and trying to meet that standard. Sometimes we meet it, and sometimes we don’t, whether it’s in practice or the play dates that we’ve had so far, but it’s a constant strive to try to get there.”

When a new coach takes the reins of a program, it is not uncommon for there to be new ideas and ways of going about the pursuit of success.

“There have been some changes,” White said. “We’ve had to implement our system and put in some processes and things that are specific to what we’re trying to accomplish now. Things are a little different, but with any program, when a new coach comes in, they’re going to change up some stuff, and that’s no different from what we’ve done. We’ve implemented a new offense, new defense and we’re just trying to do things a little differently and hope that it works out.”

Russellville’s roster has a group of seniors who have experience in varsity matches and they will be joined by younger players that add depth to the team.

“We moved Laila Hill from middle to opposite,” White said. “Laila’s a 6-foot-2 sophomore, and she absolutely can just hammer the ball. We’re hoping that by moving her to opposite, she can get more sets per match. She was already hitting at a high-efficiency rate, we’re just hoping that doing this will get more opportunities for her.”

Look for the Golden Tigers to lean on a couple of seniors White mentioned as strong and consistent hitters, Natalie Nichols and Avery Watts. Also representing the senior class on the roster are Emma Campbell, Kylee Phifer and Destiny Elkins.

The team began the 2023 season with a tri-match at Wilson High School versus the Warriors and the Lexington Bears.

White’s squad dropped the opener Aug. 24 to Lexington 2-0 by scores of 25-17 and 25-11. The Lady Golden Tigers roared back in the second match to get White’s first win with the program by taking down Wilson 2-0 by scores of 25-23 and 25-18.

During the victory, Russellville senior outside hitter Watts had 12 kills. Nichols, also an outside hitter, finished the match with nine kills. Meanwhile, Hill entered the stat column with five kills.

“We came out sluggish against Lexington and made too many errors to overcome it,” White shared. “Against Wilson, I reminded them to trust their training and trust each other. Overall, I’m pleased with our performance. We really grew as a program.”

Russellville is in Class 5A Area 15 with the Brewer Patriots, Lawrence County Red Devils and West Point Warriors.

ROSTER

3          Avery Watts

4          Laila Hill

5          Kaylee Hamilton

6          Fatima Ramirez

8          Khristyan Huerta

9          Destiny Elkins

10        Haylee Patrick

11        Blevyn Sappington

13        Natalie Nichols

15        Lya Ramirez

16        Bella Malone

18        Alexia Groce

19        Kylee Phifer

20        Josie Burcham

21        Haylee Rikard

22        Bri McCulloch

23        Hope Bonman

26        Emma Campbell

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