The Dallas Cowboys had their famous “Triplets” Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, but in Quitman, the most celebrated “Triplets” play volleyball.
Cammie Hicks, Molly Tanner and Kaci Raley have been playing the game together since the sixth grade and have grown up watching Quitman volleyball since they were little girls. They have also been with their coach, Ashlee Lingo, since she began coaching when they were in sixth grade.
Tanner and Raley were dubbed the “Twin Towers” by Lingo and Hicks is the “quarterback” and floor leader who gets them the ball. Lingo says they are an important part of her life. “These girls are really special to me because they are from my first year to teach when I was teaching sixth grade. I moved up with them in the seventh grade and they mean a lot to me,” Lingo noted. “It was an emotional senior night for me because they have always been a part of my educational career. Not only are they a huge part of my life on the floor, but they are a part of my life. They were around me when I got my husband and were there when I announced I was having a baby. They are a lot more to me than just players and that’s for sure.”
The ladies have seen the success of Quitman volleyball and have been a part of it during their high school careers. Raley and Tanner have been on the varsity since they were freshmen and Hicks joined them on varsity her sophomore year. Other senior teammates are Judith Delgadillo along with Corriors, Rebekah and Cassidy.
According to Hicks, the talented trio has grown to believe in each other. “Trust is a huge aspect of our success at Quitman. I trust both of them to always give their all,” Hicks admitted.
Tanner agrees with Hicks. “Volleyball is the very definition of a team sport. I think we work so well together because we trust each other to do what is best for the team,” Tanner quipped. “We have confidence in each other and it allows us to relax play like we know we can.”
To that Raley added, “There has never been a time I have been let down by their performance. Molly and Cammie have so much God-given abilities and they put it to use every game we play.”
Each of the ladies echoed Lingo had been not just a coach, but a mentor. “Coach Lingo has been with us throughout the years since Wood County Junior Volleyball. I have also learned a lot from my sister Shea who made it to the regional tournament her senior year,” Raley said. “Coach Veach, Coach Miller and Coach Scott have all helped me through difficulties and helped me be a better person not only in volleyball, but in many aspects of life. Coach Lingo is genuinely there for us and cares about us. That is what makes us such a strong and close team.”
Hicks said Lingo had been there through it all throughout the years. Tanner credited Lingo with things other than volleyball. “Coach Lingo has been a part of my life since sixth grade. She has shaped me not only as a volleyball player, but as a person. She has been there through my mental breakdowns and has always believed I could be the athlete I want to be,” Tanner explained. “I am the person I am today because of her. I trust her because I know the decisions she makes are the best for the team and me.”
Quitman volleyball fans are known to be a rowdy and extremely supportive group. “The support of our fans is such a blessing. They believe in us even when we sometimes don’t believe in ourselves and it has gotten us through a lot of obstacles,” Hicks asserted.
Raley added, “Even when we play far away, like at Scurry-Rosser, the fans are there for us. Their dedication is what drives us to do the best we can.”
Tanner said the whole team appreciates the fans. “I know the whole team agrees we are thankful for the support we get from this town. There is nothing like playing with a crazy, loud, jam-packed gym. I am thankful for all who have supported us on this journey,” Tanner said. “I love the people of this town and thank them for loving us. It means the world to us.”
Each one of the girls feels the team’s unity has been a part of this year’s success. “I know it’s a cliché, but we are family, all of us, the entire team. We go to each other on and off the court. We love each other during volleyball and outside of school,” Tanner assured.
Hicks believes success has come from several things. “With it being our senior year, Molly, Kaci and I want to bring home a district championship and not just for us, but our teammates, coaches and fans. I believe our younger players are motivated by Coach Lingo and us as well,” she said.
Raley said the team’s closeness helps them. “I firmly believe being close as a team allows us to play so well together. Since we have played against 4A and 5A schools we know we can compete at that level. A big difference this year is the team has more mental strength,” Raley offered.
Hicks plans to go to college and major in psychology or social work, but is leaning for the social work field. Raley wants to get bachelors in nursing and possibly work in an emergency room or become a radiology technician. Tanner wants to go into education and work with children to help them in learning and life.
As they head to the state playoffs, each young woman feels like Beckville and Callisburg are going to be the toughest of the competition. There are several good teams when you get to the playoff level. Commerce, Winona and Brock each have solid teams who can spell trouble on a given night.
Each Lady Bulldog credited their coaches and teammates with the overall success of the program. They are also thankful for the support of their families. Hicks is the daughter of James and Missy Hicks. Raley’s parents are Tracy and Kristi Raley while Tanner’s folks are John and Robin Tanner.
The Quitman “Triplets” are defined by their love of the game of volleyball, their love for each and the love for their teammates. For this trio, it’s time to make a memory of the state playoffs.