Allatoona coach Joe Soley describes his senior 6-foot outside hitter Chamblee Russell as the “Southern Charm Girl.”
He says she is easy to talk to. Teammates are not afraid of her. She’s not one that screams and shouts when matches are not going Allatoona’s way, and she speaks with a soft-spoken southern twang that is “sweet and humble.”
When it comes to her volleyball skill set, she shows no “charm” toward opposing teams.
Her 697 kills set a school record for a single season this year. She also finished with 285 digs, 63 aces and 35 blocks in helping the Lady Buccaneers finish with a 37-14 overall record and win their first state championship in a five-set battle over Region 6AAAAAA rival Sequoyah.
For her incredible front row play, Russell was named 2019 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Volleyball Player of the Year.
Her 1,778 career kills was also a school best and she had already surpassed the 1,000-mark her junior year. She was also named Georgia Volleyball Coaches Association Class AAAAAA Co-Player of the Year, as well as Region 6AAAAAA Player of the Year for the second straight season.
“One of the neat things about coaching her is that she’s been in our program since the sixth grade,” Soley said. “When she was winning awards, I really knew I had something special coming in. She was that southern tomboy that came in and played volleyball. I’m going to miss her talent. It will be hard to replace her on and off the court. She’s great.”
Her performance against Sequoyah in the state championship match goes down as one of her best. Not only did her team come away a winner, but also also recorded a double-double of 38 kills and 16 digs in that match.
The win was especially sweet for Russell and her teammates, considering Sequoyah had beaten Allatoona in their previous three meetings including the region tournament final.
Looking back, the Georgia Southern signee could not ask for a better finish after Allatoona struggled at times early in the season.
“We went through a time where we wanted it so bad, but you can’t play better the more you wanted it, and we wanted it so bad it was hurting us,” Russell said. “That was our biggest struggle of the season. We had the skill to finish and we had to get that final bit to push it over and finish our matches.”
Replacing outside hitter Emma Ahrens from last year’s state runner-up team proved to be a difficult task, and it sometimes left Russell carrying a lot of the burden.
Allatoona started playing better toward the end of the season and once they got into the playoffs, the Lady Buccaneers became the team they envisioned.
A season highlight for Russell included 26 kills and 11 digs in Allatoona’s come-from-behind three-set win over Harrison in the semifinals of the region tournament, which was a turning point of the season.
Although the Lady Buccaneers lost in the region final, they went on to sweep Habersham Central, Drew, Greenbrier and Alpharetta en route to the Class AAAAAA state finals with Russell combining for 89 kills.
Then came Allatoona’s state championship match with Sequoyah.
“I think that match was one of my hit the gas and didn’t stop kind of match,” Russell said. “It was incredible.”