GUNTERSVILLE — Cristy West served as Albertville’s varsity volleyball coach from 2013-18 before retiring and handing the reins to Lydia O’Donnell.
After O’Donnell resigned in the spring to return to Ardmore, her alma mater, West decided to exit retirement and retake command of the Aggie program. On July 30, West and Albertville’s three seniors — Ella Smart, Anna Edwards and Lexie Lee —participated in the inaugural Marshall County Volleyball Media Day at Supreme Courts.
Bart Hyche of Supreme Courts and Bo Starkey of Average Joe’s Sports Talk, a partner of Supreme Courts, conducted the press conference with Albertville. The conference can be replayed on Supreme Courts’ Facebook page.
“We’re very excited,” West said. “We have a good group. We have these three seniors. We have a lot of potential. Where we are now is not where we plan on ending up. And if we keep growing like we think we can, we expect to get better as we go.
“We had a talk right off the bat. They were excited, I think. It’s not always fun for a senior to get a new coach. They’re on board, they’re ready to go, they want to be good.
“I just told them [all] from day one I’m not here to be your friend, but I’m your coach and I’m a woman who cares about you, and we’re just going to try to be the best we can be. I’m going to try to make you the best player you can be.”
Edwards and Lee are excited about playing their final season under West. In her first tenure with the Aggies, her teams won four area tournament championships in a row, made three AHSAA Elite Eight appearances and claimed one Marshall County Tournament championship.
West’s final Aggie team posted a 39-25 record and ended its season with a loss to St. Paul’s in the quarterfinals of the AHSAA Class 6A State Tournament.
“It made me feel a lot better, because she’s not going to just us hand us our positions just because we’re seniors,” Edwards said of West’s introductory speech. “We all have to individually work for our positions.”
Lee said, “She’s very fair, and that’s what I love about Coach West. She’s very fair with the playing time. Everybody’s accountable for what they do.”
The seniors agreed the Aggies are a drama-free team that’s focused on the right priorities to have a chance to be successful.
“We all want to be the best, we all want the same thing,” Smart said. “We all want to win, and we want it so bad that we’re willing to put aside all this other stuff we may be dealing with, and we’re like, ‘Hey, we’re a team. We’re going to act like it and we’re going to play.’”
Albertville competes in Class 7A, Area 7 with Grissom, Huntsville and Sparkman. Grissom and Sparkman reached the AHSAA State Tournament last season, with Sparkman losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Spain Park.
“We do have a tough area, but a lot of people do,” West said. “We talked about goals, and one of the goals was to make it to regionals. The top two go out of four [in the area]. We just think if we keep competing, we can knock somebody off.
“Before there were seven classes we were in 6A, when 6 was the top. We were in this area a few years ago, my oldest daughter’s senior year, and we were in this exact same position, really. But by the end of it, we didn’t quite make it, but we went five [sets] with Huntsville and came this close.
“You can rise up and do it. If we keep getting better, I think we can play with them.”
The Aggies open their season against Geraldine and New Hope on Aug. 18 at Geraldine.