Players from Montgomery-area schools got a good deal of court time for the South squad in Thursday’s AHSAA volleyball All-Star match.
Shelby Traff of Alabama Christian and Tajawana Russell and Pamela Allen of Carver all played significant minutes.
All three games were close, but the North prevailed in the match 25-23, 25-22, 25-22.
Traff led all players with four service aces.
“Shelby’s so spunky,” South coach Gretchen Boykin said. “She’s a great hitter, but we had to have her on defense. Great kid; very competitive. I feel like she does a lot for ACA.”
Traff has started four years for the Eagles. ACA lost in the first round of the state tournament all four years.
“We did well last year,” Traff said. “We grew a lot as a team. I’m expecting more maturity from this team for the upcoming year. I feel like we can win state.”
ACA coach Manuel Guice said he expects his group to be hungry and competitive. And that starts with the senior Traff.
“Every year, she’s gotten better,” Guice said. “She keeps adding parts to her game. She’s become a complete player. She can play just about any position.”
ACA returns the majority of last season’s state tournament squad.
“I’m looking forward to competing with the girls and setting a good example for the years ahead when I’m not at ACA,” Traff said.
Carver also lost in the first round of last year’s state tournament. But the senior All-Star duo of Russell and Allen is looking to make a difference for next season.
“I think we’ve got a great chance to have a great year,” Russell said.
“It’s pretty much the same team,” Allen added. “We only really lost our setter.”
Last season’s first-round loss came against Huntsville High. Huntsville’s star, Jessica Lewis, was named MVP for the North squad Thursday. She finished with 12 kills, three service aces and seven digs.
“Jessica is a game-changer,” Boykin said.
Russell, who plays outside for the Wolverines, finished with five kills and five digs. Allen, who often plays middle for Carver, finished with a dig.
“They are two extremely good athletes,” Boykin said. “T.J. played outside for us, and she dug a couple great balls. Pamela had to be very versatile for us. She played left, right and middle and did a great job.”
Boykin coaches at state power McGill-Toolen. How would she defend against the Carver duo if and when the time comes?
“Our goal is to serve very aggressive so they can’t get set up,” Boykin said. “We’ll try to keep them off-balance.”
Russell, who wishes to continue her volleyball career at Auburn, and Allen, who wishes to do the same at Alabama, might just be ready next time for Boykin and the rest of their area opposition.
“We’re all very talented out here,” Russell said. “That’s why we’re called All-Stars.”
Gabrielle Deshotel of Bayside Academy was named MVP for the South.