HANCEVILLE — Wallace State volleyball sophomore Harlee Kate Reid and her teammates struggled to hold back the tears — those of joy and relief — after the 13th-ranked Lions convincingly swept through the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Gulf Atlantic District Tournament over the weekend, winning the program’s 11th conference tournament championship in 12 seasons.
“We all deserve this championship. We all help each other succeed,” said Reid, who was named the ACCC Tournament MVP. “It’s awesome to beat the team that knocked us out in 2019. We weren’t going to leave Wallace State without winning a ring, and now we have it.”
Reid and company beat three different opponents in the tournament, pushing its record to a perfect 34-0. The Lions defeated Snead State, Coastal Alabama-South and Lawson State, knocking off the Cougars in the championship match, 25-21, 25-17, 25-19, at Traditions Bank Arena at Tom Drake Coliseum.
Wallace State’s current sophomore class persevered through not having the volleyball season during its traditional fall season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and not knowing if the season would ultimately take place.
The Lions never had a stoppage once the season began in February, and they cruised through the regular season, losing only three sets over three months and clinching their 13th straight regular-season championship.
Wallace State’s performance in the tournament was as equally impressive, and the Lions avenged a rare tournament exit in 2019 with another championship.
“It’s been a difficult year and a half for a lot of reasons. I’m most proud of the effort and dedication from our players to manage the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and all of the changes. We never knew when our last match might be,” said Wallace State coach Randy Daniel. “We have a special group. They’ve dealt with more than most teams had to in my 14 seasons, and for us to be undefeated at this point is all them.”
Added sophomore Anna Renshaw: “All of the challenges we’ve had are extraordinary. Every team has challenges, but we stuck through COVID-19 changes, losing in the conference tournament last season and more. It’s worth it all to win a championship.”
Reid, an outside hitter from Hayden, was named MVP after finishing the tournament with 40 kills and 24 digs, including recording 15 kills and three digs in the championship match.
“Harlee Kate played an amazing tournament and has been good for us all season long. She’s one of the most dedicated players we could ever ask for. She’s a straight-A student and an amazing person on and off the court,” Daniel said. “The whole team is like that. They’re all wonderful kids. We love being around each other and hanging out with each other. It’s not all about volleyball. We truly enjoy each other’s company and that has a lot to do with the sophomore leadership from players like Harlee Kate, Mattrice Harris and Anna Renshaw.”
Joining Reid on the All-Tournament team were Savannah Rutledge, Mattrice Harris and Haven Hall.
Rutledge, a freshman from Albertville, racked up 119 assists during the three-day event, Harris had 36 kills and Hall added 30.
Freshman libero Temperance Chatman finished the tournament with 60 digs, Laci Reese had 28 kills, Anna Renshaw finished with 25 digs and Tori Walker contributed 24 digs.
Reid, Rutledge and Harris were also ACCC 1st-team selections for their efforts in the regular season, and Hall was a 2nd-team selection. Daniel is the ACCC Coach of the Year.
Daniel was named the ACCC Coach of the Year. He surpassed the 500-win last month and currently maintains a 509-101 career record with the program.
Wallace State now advances to the NJCAA Division I National Championship in West Plains, Mo., scheduled for April 15-17.
Other team members not previously mentioned are Courtney Patterson, Tobi Trotter, Mackenzie Davis, Madison Cartee and Kelsey Shelton.
Kate Kent is the assistant coach and Tess Bailey is the manager.