By Jeff Harrison
Carl Albert’s volleyball team was nearly perfect last weekend at the Noble Tournament.
The No. 13-ranked Lady Titans swept their first four opponents and downed the host Lady Bears Saturday in the championship 2-1.
In the tournament, Carl Albert posted wins against Tecumseh (25-12, 25-17), Moore (25-17, 25-9), Duncan (25-20, 25-16), No. 13 Guymon (25-14, 25-16) and Noble (25-23, 20-25, 15-9).
The championship win over Noble was the team’s straight this season. It was also the second year in a row for Carl Albert to win the tournament.
“Noble is a great team and we knew we needed to weather the storm against them,” said coach Toriano Lands. “And we’re fortunate to be standing at the end.”
Abby Boyer, Renee McBride-Rogers and Carmae Jones provided plenty of offense in the tournament. Boyer led with 39 kills and six aces in the five matches, including 12 kills and three aces against Moore. Jones tallied 21 kills, 11 blocks and six aces. McBride-Rogers had 25 kills, 4 aces and 25 digs. Isabelle Brown added five aces.
Abigail Collier led the team with 80 assists, including 22 against Moore, along with 28 digs. Marlee Hunter had 24 assists and 10 digs.
Defensively, the Lady Titans were led by Christen Fox with 54 digs in the tournament. Freshman Karsyn Smith had 17 digs. Becca Bond recorded six block and eight digs.
Lands was thrilled with his team’s performance last week and their development this season. He expected the young team to take their lumps after losing 10 seniors from a year ago. The Lady Titans have struggled at times but are learning how to win together.
“I really thought this season would be tough, but these girls have really come together and stepped up,” Lands said
The Lady Titans have relied on a talented group of underclassmen and handful of veterans this season. Sophomores Carmae Jones, Abby Boyer, Christin Fox and freshmen Abigail Collier, Marlee Hunter and Karsyn Smith have quickly adapted to varsity competition.
Renee McBride-Rogers, the team’s lone returning starter, has again been one of the team’s top offensive players. And Becca Bond continues to make big strides in her first season on varsity. The senior has developed into one of the team’s most versatile players.
“It’s a blessing to see a kid put in the work, trust the process and see it all come together,” Lands said.
Lands said he’s looking forward to seeing what this group is capable of this season and down the road.
“One of the biggest things is learning how to win, and understanding the ebbs and flows of a game,” Lands said. “This group will get down, but they don’t get destroyed and they help pick each other up. This is one of the most fun teams that I’ve coached.”