By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The sight of Cecily Gable in the Munford Lady Cougar maroon and black has become familiar to area volleyball fans over the past year. But last Thursday, Phil Gable had his first opportunity to see his daughter play high school volleyball. Back in May 2011, he was deployed on the USS George H. Bush. That fall Cecily entered high school and helped guided Munford to Sub-State as a freshman. Now a sophomore, Gable has helped the Lady Cougars get off to a solid start including a 25-17, 25-19 and 25-10 victory over rival Brighton. Gable and teammates like Sami Jo Schulz, Lauren Zvolanek and Laura Leavell shined n the match against the Lady Cardinals. But the focus of Phil was on his youngest daughter. “She’s grown up a lot,” he said. “It’s almost like watching Scarlet out there all over again. It’s not really odd seeing her in the uniform, because I had Scarlet and Savannah in it for so long, seeing one more in it, it’s normal now. It’s a family tradition.” When the Gable family moved to Tipton County in 2007, oldest daughter Scarlet became a standout for the Lady Cougars earning a scholarship to Belmont University. Middle girl Savannah was a member of the 2010 team that reached State as a setter. Now the youngest Gable roaming the court for the Lady Cougars these days. And she was happy and had extra motivation against Brighton. “It’s great,” she said. ” It’s nice to have his support and he hasn’t seen me in a while. It’s really special. I tried to do really good. There wasn’t any extra pressure with him here. It’s just good to have him home.” It was good for Munford to have Cecily on the court in the first set as she helped guide the Lady Cougars to a 25-17 win. But the second set started off shaky for the Lady Cougars with Brighton jumping out 5-1. Hailley Shepard controlled the net early on with three spikes. The Lady Cardinal slammed down a kill that kept her team ahead 9-7. Munford finally took the lead at 10-9. Then Brighton’s Laura Judy served up two aces to regain the advantage for the Lady Cardinals at 13-11. Then it was “The Sami Jo Schulz Show.” The senior hitter used her athletic ability to help Munford to go ahead 17-14. Schulz started with a tip. Then three straight kills by Schulz seized control of the set for Munford. “We always don’t want to lose to Brighton because it’s a rival,” Schulz said. “And Coach Mak is always telling us to pick a side. We’ve been practicing it and I finally decided to do it. It worked out for the best. “It feels amazing to actually be able to jump and hit the ball down,” she added. “It feels really good. I feel proud.” With a tip from Kelsey Hale late in the set, Munford prevailed 25-19 to take a two set lead. Nina Makris’ group was one set away from a District 13-3A victory. Schulz and Gable dominated the net early from the sets of Jodie Duncan to win the third set by 15 points. “Jodie sets are always perfect,” Cecily said. “I love Jodie. Sami was on fire tonight.” Phil’s first time seeing his daughter as a high school player was a victory. His latest return home was for 10 days. Since being deployed, Phil has yet to see Scarlet play in college. But that all changed this past weekend when Belmont played in a tournament in Memphis. “I’m nervous but I’m excited at the same time,” he acknowledged. “I hope I don’t make her nervous because she knows I’m going to be there. She knows I’m coming and hopefully she can block it out and play her game.” Between games, Phil was just happy to see his son and wife Bonnie. And he made time to say hello to friends from Millington to Brighton. “This is family,” he concluded. “It’s coming home. I want to get around and see as many people as I can in the 10 days. It’s always hard going back.”