HARTSELLE — Uncertainty.
Tanya Lybarger knows the feeling.
While preparing to take her Hartselle High volleyball team to team camp in July, Lybarger didn’t know what to expect. Several star players from the previous state tournament team were lost to graduation, leaving her with a young roster and lots of unknowns.
But that uncertainty quickly was wiped away after a promising coincidence.
The day before Hartselle left for team camp, a budding young volleyball star from Michigan arrived in town.
Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Dellinger turned out to be a smashing hit for Hartselle’s volleyball program — a player who turned out to be key piece of the program’s first state title.
Dellinger has been selected as The Daily’s volleyball player of the year, while Lybarger has been picked as coach of the year.
“It was a fun season, but at the same time, a challenging season,” Lybarger said. “There were a lot of questions for us heading into the season. Our setter (Melissa Paul Hill) was coming off back surgery, and we had a player (Dellinger) move in one day before camp.
“But once we figured everything out and got the right group of players together, everything after that was a blast.”
Dellinger’s addition obviously didn’t hurt.
She was the MVP at the Class 5A state tournament and led Hartselle with 593 kills. She also had 489 digs, 66 aces, 74 aces and 20 assists.
“Taylor was a nice addition,” Lybarger said. “Not only was she able to hit the ball well, but she’s a great all-around player.”
Dellinger made a nice addition to what was already a strong front line. Playing alongside middle hitter Haley Jared and outside hitter Taylor Lybarger, the trio combined for almost 1,400 kills and almost 250 blocks, creating a dominating force in the state tournament.
“They did an outstanding job of blocking on the front row together,” Tanya Lybarger said. “They really set the tone in the championship game. Having stoppers like that was what put us over the top.”
Dellinger’s debut was strong, but at this moment an encore doesn’t appear likely. Because of her father’s job, Tanya Lybarger said the family is returning to Michigan at the end of the school year. Dellinger already has moved back to play club volleyball.
Dellinger arrived home Saturday to spend the holiday break with her family. She also plans to help at Hartselle’s volleyball camp this week.
“There’s still a slight chance that she will be back. We’re holding out hope,” Tanya Lybarger said.
“But even if it doesn’t work out, having Taylor for one season was nice.”