Abbie Melvin proved to be one of the best volleyball players in Limestone County last year. So coming into this season, it was no secret that Athens Bible was looking to her for success.

With the bar already set high for the Trojans, the junior outside/middle-hitter didn’t worry about the pressure to live up to the hype. Instead, she only had one goal in sight – advancing to the state tournament.

After losing in the county tournament to Elkmont, Athens Bible regrouped and advanced through the Class 1A Area Tournament and Region D Tournament without losing a single match, while advancing to the state tournament for the first time since 2001.

Melvin has been named The News Courier’s High School Volleyball Player of the Year, while Athens Bible coach April Davis has been named Volleyball Coach of the Year.

“I had a pretty good season last year,” Melvin said. “But I knew I could do better. I told myself I was going to improve this year and that we were going to make it to state. I had played in the state softball tournament several times, but this is the first time I’ve ever played in the volleyball tournament. That’s something I had always wanted to do.”

Melvin finished the season with 632 kills, 70 blocks, 354 digs, 26 assists and 110 aces. She was also named to the Class 1A All-State Tournament Team, the Alabama Volleyball Coaches Association Class 1A All-State Team, Class 1A Region D MVP, Limestone County All-Tournament Team and the Athens Optimist All-Tournament Team.

“We had an unbelievable year,” Melvin said. “We came to play all year long and we just continued to get better. All of us have been playing together for a while, and I think everything was just falling into place.”

One reason Melvin believes she was able to improve so much this year is Davis – who is also her aunt. Melvin said the two have a unique chemistry that helps her stay focused.

“She’s a whole lot harder on me because she is my aunt,” Melvin said. “April expects a lot out of me and she makes sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. But I think that helps me get better. If she didn’t stay on me all the time, I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at now.”

Another reason Melvin has been so successful at Athens Bible is senior setter Kirsten McClure – who led the team with 1030 assists on the season.

“Kirsten is a big reason we were so successful this year,” Melvin said. “She’s the one who puts us in position to win. What she’s done here is unbelievable. With her graduating, we’re losing an important part of our team.”

The highlight of the Trojans’ season was advancing to the state tournament. But the most memorable part of the run for both Melvin and Davis was Athens Bible’s home Regional D match against Lynn.

Athens Bible had gotten a lot of support from its fans throughout the season. But once the postseason began, the Trojan faithful made sure home-court was a true advantage.

“The support we got this year was unreal,” Davis said. “We had everyone here to support us during our regional. I think the gym was completely full. That was the difference maker.”

Melvin said the environment created at the regional helped prepare the team for the state tournament.

“That was the first time we had ever played in an environment as tense as that,” she said.

“It helped us get ready for state. But I think I play better in those type of situations.”

Davis agrees.

“I think Abbie had her best match of the year in the regional,” she said. “She really stepped up that day.”

After advancing to state, the Trojans next goal was to play for a championship. Athens Bible fell three points shy of advancing when Gaston knocked them out in the fifth game of the quarterfinals.

Even though Athens Bible didn’t bring home the state title, Davis believes the experience they gained will prove to be valuable.

“This was a very young team, so our future should be bright,” she said. “We lost two good seniors, but we’re going to work hard and do our best to get back.

“I think we have a team coming back that’s capable of getting back to state.”

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