GUNTERSVILLE — New Albertville head volleyball coach Lydia O’Donnell and her squad launched their summer competition schedule by competing in the Guntersville High School Munciana Team Camp at Supreme Courts.

O’Donnell spent two seasons as Albertville’s freshman coach before being promoted to the varsity position, where she succeeds Cristy West, who retired from teaching and coaching.

“I’m very excited. It’s a huge opportunity,” O’Donnell said of her new role. She’s also moving from Albertville Middle School to Albertville High School to teach math.

O’Donnell inherits a team that’s won four consecutive area tournament championships and made back-to-back appearances in the Class 6A Elite Eight.

“They’re working hard,” she said. “We’ve got pretty much that whole team coming back, and they’re ready to play.

“We have nine seniors, and I told them what I’m looking for right now is for them to step up and show they’ve got that leadership. Journey Oden, Savannah Rutledge and Grace Kelley have been big leaders so far.”

Makayla Phillips is the only player Albertville lost to graduation.

Kelley, who plays libero, will compete for the North squad in next week’s North-South All-Star Game in Montgomery. O’Donnell said Kelley’s honor is well-deserved.

Rutledge is verbally committed to Wallace State-Hanceville, which has won 10 straight ACCC Tournament championships.

Munciana Volleyball is regarded as America’s elite junior volleyball training program. It started in 1974 and is headquartered in Yorktown, Indiana.

“Our girls spent two sessions during the day with the Munciana coaches, just working skills and working individual stuff,” O’Donnell said.

“The Munciana coaches are great. I feel like they’re working with our girls on the little things our girls need to do. They’ve played together before and they work well together, but those little things are what we’re going to have to work on the rest of the season and they’re getting to see a lot of that this week.”

Volleyball teams across the state open preseason practice Aug. 5.

Albertville’s first matches of the O’Donnell era are against Guntersville and Danville on Aug. 22 at Guntersville.

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