Lady Titans reload for another run at state title
By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Several key players are gone from Carl Albert’s state runner-up team.
But their expectations are not.
The Lady Titans are focused on winning the first volleyball title in the program’s history.
“I feel like we’ll always be able to compete at a high level just because of how far our program has come,” said coach Hayden Robbins. “Our girls know that we’ve done well in the past and knew we can do it again.”
Carl Albert qualified for the Class 5A state tournament four years in a row. They reached the championship last year and the state semifinals in 2020.
Carl Albert returns five senior varsity players from last year with Emily Boyer, Madison Stuart, Hadley Crain, Merrick Hunter, and Aamori Gilbert.
Boyer and Stuart have played varsity four years and will solidify the front row. Crain saw limited varsity minutes last year and will be a key part of their defense. Gilbert will play middle and give the Lady Titans a strong blocker. Hunter is a versatile and experienced player who can help all over the floor.
“Making the finals last year was a big step and we have high expectations this year,” Boyer said. “I think we have a good group this year. We’re a younger team and have a lot of energy and fun together.”
The Lady Titans will rely on some new players to continue the team’s winning tradition. So far, those newcomers are following the lead of a competitive bunch of seniors.
“The freshmen and sophomores are ready to come in and play. They’re not timid at all,” Stuart said.
Robbins said they’re still evaluating talent and developing a system for this season. A key part of that is rebuilding one of the best defenses in the state. Offensively, she promises her team will scrap and fight for every point.
“It’s not necessarily about skill, but who can figure out how to win faster,” she said. “We’re not the tallest or fastest team, but we’ll find ways to score.”
That includes adjusting on the fly.
“We’re going to play volleyball how it’s supposed to be play, but we’ll also do what it takes to win,” she said. “If our girls see a hole, they need to put the ball there. We want to exploit their weaknesses.”
The Lady Titans finished their first week of practices. They will get their first taste of competition with a scrimmage at Southmoore on July 30. The event will include several 5A and 6A schools.
The regular season begins Aug. 11 with a home match against OCS. The Lady Titans then head to the Coweta Tournament on Aug. 12-13.