‘Big 3’ gone — can FHS volleyball stay strong?

For the last three years, Farragut High School’s volleyball team has been on the brink of winning a Class AAA state championship. The Lady Admirals have advanced to the title match every year since 2014 only to come up short against Brentwood.

Many of the players from those three teams have now moved on, but Farragut still has hopes of a fifth consecutive trip to Murfreesboro.

“I’m excited about our season,” said Farragut junior setter and defensive specialist Sydney Cherney. “We did lose a lot of senior starters who were seniors. It’s going to be interesting to see who steps up. It would be nice to get back to the state with our team.”

While several former Lady Admirals, such as Alexis Parker, Madi Howell, and Anne Abernathy are now playing college volleyball, the cupboard is far from bare at FHS.

“We have a lot of solid talent that we need to build upon,” said Farragut head coach Susan Davidson, who begins her eighth season as head coach. “We lost a lot of great seniors and it was a blessing to coach those girls.

“But they spent their time here training our younger kids and now it’s time for those young kids to step up. These girls realize the history and tradition going back to [former coach] David Moore. We want to continue that tradition. I’m excited about this group. We have good leadership.”

Farragut, which had made four consecutive trips to the state tournament, went 56-6 in 2016 and is in the midst of an unprecedented run in District 4-AAA. The Lady Ads have not lost a regular-season league match in four years.

That’s a tremendous feat in any league. District 4-AAA, however, is constantly one of the state’s most competitive leagues. It’s had two teams make it to Murfreesboro in each of the last two seasons. Bearden and FHS made the field in 2015. Hardin Valley joined the Lady Ads in the midstate last year. The Lady Hawks finished third and were eliminated by Farragut.

The district has undergone a facelift due to realignment. The Lady Bulldogs and West High have departed. South Doyle has joined the district.

“Our district is still tough,” Davidson said. “We lost Bearden and they are our rivals but you still have Hardin Valley, Maryville, Heritage and William Blount. Those are all tough teams.”

Top returners for the Lady Admirals include: Cherney; Caroline Bower (junior, outside hitter/middle blocker); Allison Yander (senior, setter) and Allie Tate (sophomore, middle blocker/right side player).

Those savvy and battle-tested veterans will be joined by a talented crop of newcomers including: Lauren Loveday (sophomore, outside hitter); Courteney Lovell (senior, libero/defensive specialist) and Rebecca Fisher (junior, libero).

Davidson said her 2016 squad has all the ingredients to have another successful year.

“I’m excited because our young kids saw some playing time last year,” she said. “They’re versatile and many will play all over the floor and they’re very mature and very game smart. They have experience and knowledge of the game.

“We want to continue to be strongly competitive and we need to work on our service game.”

Farragut opened its 2017 season Monday, Aug. 14, at Karns in a tri-match against the host Lady Beavers and Grace Christian Academy.

Yander said that she’s ready to start the new season.

“We’re going to continue to step up and we’re going to have a lot of fun,” she said. “The dynamic is going to be a little different because we lost so many great players.

“But we’re still going to keep the level of play up.”

Bower agreed.

“We lost most of our starters, so it’s going to be a little different for sure,” she said. But we’re a good team, still, and we just want to keep up the level of play.”