Expectations remain high for Pelham volleyball ahead of 2022 season
Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2022
By SETH HAGAN | Special to the Reporter
PELHAM – The standard of Pelham volleyball has been established for close to a decade. The program is marked by championships and deep playoff runs.
Following Perry Robinson’s arrival in 2012, the Panthers made appearances in the Elite Eight six out of the next seven seasons. After coming up short in 2016, Robinson’s squad made its second state title game appearance and took home the Class 6A crown in 2017.
Now, heading into a new year, Robinson said his team’s standard remains the same and doesn’t change from year to year.
Making the postseason and being viable is the expectation.
“Our goals are similar each season: to improve daily and be ready for the playoffs and go as deep as we can in Class 6A,” Robinson said.
The Panthers have dominated Area 6 the last two seasons, winning the championship with a combined 14-0 record over that span. But this year, they lose a large senior class from last season that includes All-County performers Elizabeth Hayhurst, Shay Walsh and Tammy Melendez.
However, new seniors Averi Smith, Emma Studdard and Eva Nguyen will look to return Pelham to the Elite Eight after missing out last year in a close match with Gulf Shores in the Super Regionals where they lost the final two sets by just seven combined points.
Robinson is confident in this new group to provide the leadership his club needs in the fall after seeing others set the tone for them in previous years.
“They understand the challenges of being the seniors,” he said. “They were able to watch the large group of seniors we have last season and learn from them.”
Pelham will also have some talented underclassmen who will contribute to the team’s success.
“Camryn McMinn started for us as a freshman last year,” Robinson said. “As a sophomore, she will take on more responsibility for us. Londyn Wynn, another sophomore, has had a great summer. She is a well-rounded player for us and we are excited to see her growth.”
Robinson expressed optimism around a good summer as the team continues to improve and gel together through team workouts and trips to compete at other schools.
There are also some subtle changes the staff is making in the program they hope will lead to big results.
“The offseason went well,” Robinson said. “We were busy in the weight room—this is usually the beginning of our team time together. This summer we have participated in the Power League at Hoover, along with attending the playdate in Foley. We never want to be the same. The changes are mostly philosophical changes. Just how we are approaching a few areas of the game and where we are with this team. Going from an older team with 11 seniors to a younger team has us looking at how we can help them with their growth.”
Building team chemistry and developing new leadership will be key for the Panthers on their quest for a third straight area title and beyond. If history is any indication, Pelham will be making noise in late October into November.