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Shirley signs her ex-REL libero to play at Navarro

By CHRIS PARRY / Tyler Morning Telegraph  —

      Robert E. Lee senior Taylor Hale had a good relationship with former Lady Raiders volleyball coach Ronda Shirley.

That’s a good thing, because the two are going to be together now for two more years. Hale signed a college letter of intent Tuesday to play volleyball at Navarro College. Shirley left REL after this season to become the new head coach at the NJCAA Division I school.

“She (Shirley) taught us so much about being a leader and I do want to continue doing that and I know that she is going to help me get to where I want to be,” said Hale, who received all-district honors this last season as the starting libero for the Lady Raiders.

“I am really excited, especially because we get along so well.”

Hale averaged 15 digs per match this season in helping the Lady Raiders reach the playoffs after a two-year absence. Lee was put out in the first round by Conroe Oak Ridge, then ranked No. 2 in Class 6A.

Shirley said Hale was someone she targeted soon after taking the Navarro job.

“A lot of time when you are recruiting kids, you see how they are on the floor and try to evaluate them and their parents in the limited time you have,” Shirley continued. “But Taylor, I know her; I know what makes her tick, I know by her demeanor whether she is having a bad day and I know how far I can push her. She can compete for the libero or one of the DS (defensive specialist) positions.”

Hale said she looked at Tyler Junior College, but the relationship and comfort level of her and Shirley won her over to Corsicana.

Hale marks a milestone for Hall of Fame coach Shirley.

“She’ll be the first kid ever that I have coached for three years in a row,” said Shirley, who spent her entire career at the Juco level before becoming REL’s coach two years ago.

“She must really like me.”