Briarwood volleyball team hopeful for big 2023 season

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – The Briarwood volleyball team has had its share of ups and downs the last few seasons, but the Lions will enter the 2023 season more confident after flashes of success a year ago.

The Lions made it to the Class 6A playoffs last season during a special run that saw them advance from their area and into super regionals before ultimately losing a five-set heartbreaker to Pike Road to end the season.

Now, they have five seniors ready to lead the way as part of a balanced team that has plenty of potential.

“We are excited for this season,” head coach Carly Cline said. “We have a really good team in terms of skill and overall dynamic. Attitude, work ethic, all of the above. They’ve been working hard this summer to get prepared. I’m really thankful to be able to coach them this season and am excited for what’s ahead.”

Briarwood will be led by senior Stella Helms, an All-County Second Team player last year thanks to 445 digs, 361 kills and 69 aces. She’ll be joined by other seniors Anna Reid Frost, Lindsey Butler, Caroline Jones and Colleen Lehane as key members of this year’s team.

Cline, who is in her second stint as an interim head coach at Briarwood, will be looking to try and build off of last year’s success, while also hoping to take the team to the next level.

With that, she is placing a heavy emphasis on consistency this season.

“Consistency is a big thing,” she said. “It can be easy to get laxed and put too much on one win or loss. We have to have the mental capacity to realize, you’re never done. There is always something else to accomplish. Keep on going, keep on winning, never give up. Just trying to keep going every day. That’s the roadblock we hit last year. Trying to continue on after one set loss.”

This year, Cline thinks the team has the potential to get out of the area once again, make it to regionals and then go as far as possible if they have that focus.

“Learn over the summer that one person can really make a difference,” Anna Reid Frost said. “They can make the difference with their attitude. If one person is negative, it impacts the whole team. Then, one positive can build it back up. Attitude really effects the whole team.”

To help build that with the team as a whole and make a culture change, Cline has started a mentoring program with the upperclassmen having a “little sister” in the program to help establish the right mentality.

“They all have little sisters,” she said. “They’re a mentor to younger girls. We’re a young program this year and have 10 players, so we’re trying to grow the right culture across program. We want to encourage younger girls to work harder, get better and build up program to be successful. These seniors have been through it four years. They know the hard work that goes into it. Their influence will leave an impact.”

That has led to strong team chemistry and a different dynamic going into this season that the team might not have had in previous years.

Beyond that, positivity is another key for Kline and the team, and she has noticed it on a daily basis.

“They never complain,” she said. “That is the foundation of work ethic. Not complaining. All of them from seniors down to freshmen, they are very coachable. Willing to do everything I ask them to do. They always can improve on every skill. That’s been great for me. They’re buying in to what I have for them. Socially, they are really serious about positive attitude. The team dynamic is great. Doing a lot of mindset stuff to get ready for three or five set matches.”

With that positive attitude, the Lions are hoping to become less focused on dwelling this year and hope to leave each play, set and match, positive or negative, behind them and shift to the next.

Cline said they are focused on doing that this season, and if they do, they’ll have the potential to make this a special season.