Lady Warriors’ Garmany perseveres, signs volleyball scholarship with Gadsden State

Cherokee County High School senior outside hitter Ella Garmany signed a volleyball scholarship with Gadsden State Community College on Tuesday. Sitting from left is her mother Leah and on her right is father Jim. Standing from left is Cherokee County volleyball assistant coach Jessica Hincy, head coach Tiffany Rieger, Raegan Garmany (sister), and Cherokee County assistant coach Magen Dupree. Photo by Shannon Fagan

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

CENTRE – Cherokee County High School volleyball coach Tiffany Rieger knew there was something special about Ella Garmany at a young age.

Garmany was a freshman in Rieger’s first year as the head coach of the Lady Warriors. Normally a coach would let such a young athlete develop her skill on the junior varsity level, but Rieger was so impressed with Garmany that she decided to pull her up and start her on a varsity team with eight seniors.

“Whether she was on the front or back row, every ball that was high and between the antennas, she was making some kind of weird athletic play and swinging,” Rieger recalls. “I looked at (assistant coach) Abby (Bannister) and said ‘That kid has natural talent. She’s has natural ability. She’s a hard worker. She’s somebody we can build this program around.’

“As crazy as everybody thought I was, pulling a freshman up to start on a team with eight seniors, I just trusted my gut. Ella made me look good and made me look smart.”

Understandably, Garmany said she was scared when Rieger made the move.

“There were so many more girls who were more advanced than I was,” Garmany said. “As soon as I got up there (to varsity) I realized I could play with those girls. I had the potential to be a lot better than what I was. Since I realized my potential, I started to love volleyball a lot more. Being pulled up to varsity I think made my love for volleyball expand.”

But Garmany certainly hasn’t had an easy go of it with injuries, with the most significant her junior season (knee). She didn’t let any of her setbacks get her down.

As a senior outside hitter in 2022, Garmany posted 456 kills, 61 blocks, 353 digs, 86 aces and 39 assists in leading the Lady Warriors to a 30-26 record last season. For her career, she compiled 688 kills, 485 digs, 160 blocks, 114 aces, 55 assists.

And now, Garmany adds to her volleyball legacy by signing a volleyball scholarship with Gadsden State Community College. She inked with the Cardinals at the Cherokee County High School gym on Tuesday.

“It feels good,” Garmany said. “I see all these girls playing in college and I used to want to be one of those girls. Now I am one of those girls. I’m just excited to join their team and play at a higher level.”

Garmany feels she hasn’t into her full potential yet and is excited to see where she goes from here.

“Being an athlete is hard,” she said. “You’re always prone to injury, but you just have to keep going through it all. You can’t just lay down and quit because you’re scared of getting hurt. That’s just part of it. Just knowing through all my injuries I still got a scholarship really makes me so happy. I still have so much more potential. I lost so much playing time and time in the gym (in high school), but I feel like once I fully get back into it I can really excel.”

Rieger and her new coach at Gadsden State Courtney Brothers do as well.

“As far as stats go, there’s no telling what she could’ve done here,” Rieger said. “She already accomplished a lot even missing her junior season. Just to be able to come back her senior year and make an impact says a lot.

“Gadsden State is not the only school who contacted her. You can’t really make up for that year she missed with her friends, but at least she still gets to play. It’s not over yet, and for that, I’m very thankful.”

Brothers said the Lady Cardinals have “had our eye on Ella for a while.”

“We think she can come in and make an impact right away for us,” Brothers said. “Not only are we getting a quality player but more importantly a quality person. We are excited to have Ella join our family at Gadsden State Community College.”

Rieger feels Garmany will be a great fit at Gadsden State.

“I love that I’m putting her in one of my friends’ hands, someone I can trust,” she said. “I’ve known Courtney for a while and I know she’ll take good care of her, push her and love her like we do. I’m very thankful for that and I know her parents are too.”

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