Area volleyball teams continue to chase PH

·6 min read

Aug. 13—If 2022 yields as much volleyball success as 2021, this could be a very fun fall for area teams and their fans.

Pendleton Heights dominated Madison County again and, although its two-time THB Sports Volleyball Athlete of the Year Avery Ross is now at Notre Dame, the Arabians return enough talent to be heavy favorites once again.

Alexandria, Daleville and Madison-Grant will all be out to defend sectional championships won last fall when both the Broncos and Argylls advanced to the regional finals.

Youth will dominate rosters at Anderson, Anderson Prep, Elwood, Lapel and Shenandoah, and six of the area's 11 teams will also feature first-year coaches. To top it off, Frankton moves up a class and the talented Eagles will compete as a 3A team this season.

Here is a glance at the area teams and some of the key players for the season ahead:

ALEXANDRIA

Head Coach: Sydnee Rudy (1st Season); 2021: 20-13, Sectional 40 champions; Key Losses: Kendall Parker, Taylor Stinefield, Kara Simison, Olivia Hall, Carlie Remington; Expected to Return: Addy Warren, Kaydan Jones, Elli Closser, Ashlynn Duckworth, Allie Clark

ANDERSON

Head Coach: Alexis Gurley (1st season); 2021: 5-18; Key Losses: Lauryn Williams, Malena Higgins, Tiara Ingram, McKenzie Chamberlain; Key Returning Athletes: Payton Sargent; Newcomers to Watch: Makayla Dean, Maddy Kovacs, Campbell Kinnaman, Olivia Muir; Potential Breakout: Mariyonna Byrd

Season Outlook: "It is not necessarily a new program even though there are a lot of fresh faces on the court this year," Gurley said. "There has been so much growth over the last two years, that this season is the final push for everyone to see the true potential the Lady Tribe has."

ANDERSON PREP

Head Coach: Christopher Ferris (1st Season); 2021: 1-20; Key Loss: Martavia Cullum; Expected to Return: Mariah McClendon, Daphne Runge, Julia Smith, Kaylynn Orr, Kanyla Wills, Alivia Peoples

DALEVILLE

Head Coach: Valorie Wells (3rd season); 2021: 24-8, Sectional champions; Key Losses: Emi Isom, Audrey Voss, Julia Andreassa, Sydney Nixon; Key Returning Players: Emilee Finley, Amarah McPhaul, Abby Reed, Ava Papai, Trishelle Johnson, Lauren Finley, Kate Stecher; Newcomers to Watch: Emma Voss, Mallory Engbrecht; Potential Breakout: Emilee Finley

Season Outlook: "The Volley Broncs season outlook for 2022 is 'Why not us?'" Wells said. "We are really focusing on our 'why' that makes 'us' who we are as a team and build on that to making each other better. Focusing on what we can control to make this team go the distance. We have learned to always keep having fun and being energetic."

ELWOOD

Head Coach: Jerry Saffold (1st season); 2021: 9-19; Key Losses: Jaleigh Crawford; Key Returning Athletes: Savannah Garcia, Trinity Bryan; Newcomers to Watch: Raeghan Wisehart, Nichole Durm, Maddie Parkhurst, Kennedy Heim; Potential Breakout: Bryan

Season Outlook: "We are young with no seniors and have suffered two season-ending injuries to our starting middles Alivia Boston and Kendra Sallee," Saffold said. "Our goal this year will be to play aggressively and maintain a positive attitude. We want to be the best team we can possibly be. Our girls work extremely hard and are embracing the hard work that is required to become successful. This will be a fun group to watch."

FRANKTON

Head Coach: Beth Sperry (5th season); 2021: 21-11, Central Indiana Conference co-champions; Key Loss: Shae Simon; Key Returning Players: Adayna Key, Sydney Duncan, Holli Klettheimer, Addie Brobston, Emma Sperry, Mackenzie Long, Claire Duncan, Alivia Swisher, Makena Alexander

Season Outlook: "We are looking forward to competing in the Class 3A postseason tournament and believe we have the talent to go far," Coach Sperry said. "This team is a joy to coach, and I love the energy we have in our gym. These girls have been excited and ready for this 2022 season the moment last season ended."

LAPEL

Head Coach: Hilary Eppert (10th season); 2021: 16-13; Key Losses: Emma Jackley, Ashlynn Allman, Emma Anderson, Alexis Anderson, Makayla Smethers; Key Returning Players: Lauren Paska, Maryn Landis, Sophie Jackley, Tatum Harper, Elizabeth Stern; Newcomers to Watch: Karlie Jannings, Taylor Mroz, Madison Ake; Potential Breakout: Myleigh Carpenter, Laniah Wills

Season Outlook: "We are a young team, so (we're) learning team chemistry, how to compete through the peaks and valleys and finding balance in the game when offense or defense is struggling," Eppert said. "Looking forward to seeing each player improve their volleyball IQ and watching us grow as a team."

LIBERTY CHRISTIAN

Head Coach: Anna Ritz (1st season); 2021: 7-17; Key Losses: Mady Rees, Maddie Mercer, Kaitlyn Smith; Key Returning Players: Ada Erny, Reeve Jarrels, Lucero Hernandez, Nicki Warren, Jenna Rigdon; Newcomers to Watch: Anna Chappell; Potential Breakout: Erny

Season Outlook: "We are looking forward to an exciting year," Ritz said. "Our team has some key returning players that we really look towards for leadership. This team has a ton of potential and good goals for the season that we look forward to tackling. Lots of talent all around that we can't wait to show off."

MADISON-GRANT

Head Coach: Kayla Jump (4th season); 2021: 30-6, Sectional and Grant 4 champions; Key Losses: Azmae Turner, Grace Holmberg, Katie Garringer, Gabby Rudy, Sydnee Wilson, Tori Hiatt; Key Returning Players: Daya Greene, Alexis Baney; Newcomers to Watch: Ella Brummet, Maegan Wilson, Maddy Moore; Potential Breakout: Brummet

Season Outlook: "Don't count us out," Jump said in an email. "After graduating five seniors (three mainly started) and then last season six seniors (that all started), I think people might count us out. Obviously, losing that many players at once is a lot to try and recoup from, however those upperclassmen have been preparing these girls the last two years for their time. One of my favorite things about our program is we have players that want everyone to be great and help each other get better each day. It also helps we have some great student-athletes."

PENDLETON HEIGHTS

Head Coach: Blair Barksdale (7th season); 2021: 30-4, Madison County champions (4th straight); Key Losses: Avery Ross, Olivia Wright, Gabby Ennis, Tessa Phillips; Key Returning Players: Ramsey Gary, Hannah Grile, Mikala Ross; Newcomer to Watch: Tessa Hannon; Potential Breakout: Mikala Ross

Season Outlook: "We are excited for the upcoming season," Barksdale said. "We will certainly have a different style of play than we've had in the past. The loss of a player like Avery Ross on the outside requires us to make more plays defensively and be creative with our offense and find other ways to score. The team has been working hard and are ready to get after it."

SHENANDOAH

Head Coach: Jackie Kimball (1st season); 2021: 2-16; Key Losses: Hannah Zody, Kenedi Helms, Kaylin Nolen; Key Returning Athletes: Kayla Muterspaugh, Elise Boyd, Makala Starnes, Brooklyn Merker; Newcomers to Watch: Josie Patterson, Audree Farmer

Season Outlook: "(We are) looking forward to growing as a team," Kimball said.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.