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Andrew Jackson High School second-year volleyball coach John Verdugo said the Lady Vols face a challenge this fall.
A year after AJ went 22-9 and advanced to the third round of the Class AA Upper State playoffs, the Lady Vols sport a young squad.
The 2010 Lady Vols qualified for the Class AA Upper State playoffs as the Conference IV-AA champion after defeating county rival Indian Land High, 3-2 in a special play-off match at Lancaster High School gym.
AJ’s crown was its first since the 2002 season.
The 10-member AJ squad is led by senior Callie Dixon, an all-state pick who is one of two starters back this season.
Dixon, an all-region pick, was named the team’s Best Offensive Player last season.
Senior Ashley Williams is another starter back for AJ. Jamee Blackmon rounds out the Lady Volunteers’ seniors
Sophomores are Lauren Rowell, Darby Threatt and Haley Faulkenberry. The lone freshman is Hannah Cobb.
“I think our team will be competitive,” said Verdugo, who was named the Conference IV-AA Coach of the Year in 2010. “We established a good foundation last season and we continue to get better and improve.”
Verdugo noted the AJ keys.
“We have to master the volleyball skills and work together,” he said.
“It’s improving our fundamentals and working together.”
A highlight for the Lady Vols in the preseason was capturing its second straight Lancaster County preseason tournament title. The AJ junior varsity, which went 14-1 last season, won the jayvee title in the tourney held at Lancaster High School.
“We have room for improvement, but winning the tournament was a confidence booster for our team,” Verdugo said.
Verdugo is assisted by Tammy Twitty and Danielle Kuras serves as the Junior Lady Vols coach.