Lee women’s volleyball coach Andrea Hudson and her young squad completed the 2021 portion of their home schedule with a thrilling four-set victory over Gulf South Conference Spring Championship Alabama Huntsville on Wednesday evening inside Walker Arena.
In the midst of completing her 30th season directing the Lee program, the celebration began before the opening serve and lasted after the 25-27, 27-25, 25-22, 25-23 victory. Several former players gathered at center court to honor Coach Hudson and her husband Kevin. The assistant coach made it clear that the season is not over for the Lady Flames. They will be traveling to Dallas to take part in a tournament.
Former Players Make It A Special Evening:
“We had a player from the very first team I coached that came back today and several others from all different eras of my career. It was just awesome to see that they cared so much and took time to come back tonight. It was really special,” Coach Hudson admitted. “I love Lee and I’m glad I get to stay here and get to continue to work in athletics because I’m going to love watching the volleyball team next year.”
Middle hitter Scottie Cook had an outstanding game with 18 kills and a swing percentage of .593. Kevin Hudson, who has been alongside Andrea for the past 30 years said he could not remember a middle blocker producing that type of percentage. Abby Stroh contributed 17 kills and freshman Allie Whittinghill followed with 13. The Lady Flames got solid play from freshmen Abigail Luke (9 kills) and Macy Petty (5 kills).
Calina Croy had 74 assists and Reagan Bratton had 58. Mackenzie Pearson was the dig leader with 30 and Stroh had 17. Cook’s fine play continued at the net as she had six blocks and Luke followed with five.
UAH was paced by Kendall Schardert with 16 kills. Paris Morris added 13 and Molly Presnell had 12. Sabrina Duncan dished off 135 assists. Morris also had five blocks.
“I think I was thinking more about what it took to win that match in the moment rather than my career and this being my last home match. We’ve been fighting a battle this season of can we sustain what we’re doing well over an entire match and I was so proud of the girls and how they fought back even after UAH made a few plays. I was just so happy for the girls to get this win,” said the proud veteran coach.
Andrea Hudson is only the third head coach in Lee’s rich volleyball history and she is the longest tenured coach in the Lee Athletic Department. She replaced Teresa Huskey who served for two seasons after replacing Mark Wickam who started the program in 1989. Hudson began her long reign in 1991.
Success is certainly the name of the game when talking about the Lady Flames coach. The record speaks for itself, 843 wins against just 343 defeats over the past 29 seasons. In 16 of those 27 years, the volleyball team claimed 30 or more wins, including an outstanding 39-1 mark in 2010. The 843 victories place Hudson among many of the greats in the sport of women’s volleyball.
Under Coach Hudson, the Lady Flames made the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II and the Gulf South Conference (GSC) in 2013. The young club finished with a 22-11 overall record and an impressive 12-6 mark and third place finish in the GSC standings. Powerful Lee volleyball outside hitter Silvia Sartori, Lee’s current graduate assistant, completed her outstanding career in 2018 and was named to the Gulf South Conference All-Decade First Team. She became the program's first NCAA All-American in 2018 and was also named the 2018 GSC Player of the Year.
Lee made its first trip to the NAIA National semifinals in 2009 and repeated the accomplishment again in 2010 and 2011. The Lady Flames earned another program-first in 2010, reaching the No.1 ranking in the NAIA. During the successful 2010 campaign, Hudson was named the Southern States Athletic Conference Volleyball Coach of the Year, her fifth conference award to go with three Region Coach of the Year honors.
In expressing her feelings about her career the coach said, “It’s me, Kevin and the staff members on the bench, but it is the girls that are winning the matches on the floor. This was a win for the entire school. It just shows how far our program has come and the support for volleyball has improved over the last 20-plus years. These wins would not have been possible without our players and Kevin.”
Coach Hudson’s teams have captured 20 conference championships (three TVAC, seven TranSouth, eight SSAC, and two SSAC East Division titles), six NAIA Regional crowns, and advanced to the NAIA National Tournament 11 times overall including five consecutive trips from 2008-2012.
Under Hudson’s coaching, Lee has had 29 players named NAIA All-Americans. Academics have also been stressed by the coach and the players have delivered. At the end of each season the Lady Flames rank near the top when academic honors are presented.