Judging by the T-shirts Farragut Lady Admirals volleyball players were wearing during a late July morning practice, team mindset already is squarely on Murfreesboro.
That’s where perennial superpower Brentwood, the Class AAA beast of volleyball, has denied Farragut a state championship by clipping the Lady Ads in each of the past two state title showdowns.
Encouraging results at a prestigious AAU national high school-age tournament, featuring a handful of Lady Admirals, in Orlando, Fla., in June, was followed by an FHS team championship among top southeastern schools, 31 total, in Charleston, S.C., in mid-July.
“We have to believe that we can win in Murfreesboro, which I think we always have. There’s just that little hump that we have to get over,” senior Alexis Parker, a two-time All-state outside hitter, said. “… We just have to believe that we can go all the way. Obviously we did lose a few valuable players from last year, but I think we have a lot of girls stepping up.”
In Orlando playing for Tennessee K2 18-JOTA team, “We were playing in the 18-Open, so we were seeing the best of the best … so I think it was a great experience altogether,” said Parker, an Indiana University commitment who earned JOTA All-National Team honors in Orlando.
Anne Abernathy (6-foot-2), a senior outside hitter earning All-District 4-AAA and Second Team Class AAA All-state honors last year, and Madi Howell, senior libero who earned All-Region 2-AAA and All-4-AAA honors in 2015, are Lady Admirals teammates who played alongside Parker in Orlando.
“We ended up seventh from over a hundred. We played in the highest division at nationals, in 18-Open,” Abernathy, a Wingate University (N.C.) commitment, said. “We went up against some pretty big girls, but we played really competitive volleyball. I played everything across the front.”
Abernathy said the experience helped her because “you have to work a lot harder to put a ball away because you’re playing against a lot bigger girls. It makes you be a smarter player and it makes you play a lot harder.”
In Charleston, “We played seven [matches],” Abernathy said, adding it was the third consecutive summer where her team has captured a three-day camp championship (2015in Cincinnati and 2014 atThe University of Tennessee Knoxville).
Such camp competition “is a chance for us to get comfortable playing with the person next to us. … In high school you have players leaving and coming up every year,” Abernathy added.
Howell said about Charleston, “We played a lot of really good teams. There were teams, like, from Orlando and Atlanta. We played really well.”
Seniors Shelby Rawls, who started as a middle hitter last season, and Allie Rogers, right-side hitter, said much was gained from the team’s Charleston experience.
Rogers said the camp “was the first time we got to play together and figure out how to get the rhythm.”
Rawls said FHS coaches, led by Lady Admirals skipper Susan Davidson, “Helped us a lot to bring our team together. And we played really well considering it was our first time playing together.”
Individually, Rawls said, “It brought me up to speed and made me work harder to complete what I needed to do.”
On top of having a promising and talented freshman class, Davidson’s top sophomores are Caroline Bower, middle hitter; Sydney Cherney, right-side hitter/defensive specialist, and Rebecca Fisher, defensive specialist.
All three competed in Orlando.