BIRMINGHAM – The Lawrence County Red Devils came up just short Tuesday.
Lawrence County competed in the quarterfinals of the 5A state volleyball tournament and fell to Providence Christian 3-1 (17-25, 14-25, 25-23, 24-26).
“This group reminded me a lot of my 2020 seniors,” said Lawrence County head coach. “When that group took over in 2019, even though they were older, nobody expected a lot out of them because they were so inexperienced. But we ended up making a run just like this year’s group did.”
The Red Devils fell behind 2-0 after losing leads in both sets. A lot of it could’ve been attributed to inexperience, as only one was around for their last state tournament run in 2019. They were also without Kylie Graham, a key player in their rotation.
“Losing Kylie was tough. She doesn’t have the eye popping stats on the stat sheet but she keeps a lot of balls alive,” Hutto said.
Lawrence County battled back, winning set three 25-23. They trailed 17-10 in set four, but came back to make it 18-17. However, errors would doom the Red Devils down the stretch leading to their 26-24 defeat in the fourth set.
“I go back to the two missed serves we had, those hurt a lot,” Hutto said. “I don’t harp on balls hit out, because I want them to feel like they have the freedom to swing away. But the missed serves were killer. We have to get the ball in the square.”
While Lawrence County does have seven seniors, five underclassmen got significant playing time in the tournament, four of which were freshmen or sophomores. That was without the aforementioned Graham, also a sophomore.
Their experience in the tournament sets up a bright future for Lawrence County volleyball.
“It’s a big deal for them to get that experience,” Hutto said. “It’s going to be tough finding a new setter, but we have a lot of talented girls coming back.”
Hutto had to fight back tears when talking of her setter, which is her daughter Anna Clare. Coaching a child is a special privilege, one that the elder Hutto hasn’t taken lightly.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. There were times this year where I would just step back and be a mom,” Hutto said. “I’ve told her she was the easiest player I ever coached because she took it so well. I’m really going to miss having her.”