Strong finishes to scrimmage leave Licking Valley, Heath volleyball beaming

·3 min read

NEW ALBANY — The inconsistencies from a scrimmage were to be expected, but both the Heath and Licking Valley volleyball teams left Thursday with smiles on their faces.

The Bulldogs and Panthers both finished the quad scrimmage with Worthington Christian and host New Albany on a high note. Both are aiming to move up the ladder this season in the Licking County League on the strength of talented senior classes.

"We struggled in the beginning just because it was our first set, but we really mended as a team together. We did really well," Heath senior Hanna Clark said. "I like being one of the leaders because I like being able to help people with their role on the team."

Heath dropped its first set in each of its first two scrimmages against Worthington Christian and Valley before hitting its stride. The Bulldogs then clicked from the beginning in their third and final action of the day, beating the host Eagles in both sets.

Valley also had an impressive showing despite missing two key players. The Panthers won at least a set in each of their three scrimmages, including a thorough set victory in their final against a talented Worthington Christian team.

"I am really proud of them," Valley coach Leslie Hughes said. "I told the girls, 'It actually looks like you listen to what we say.' There are things we have been working on, and they executed them. We had some moments where we were down, but they stayed focused and played well."

Valley was without standout senior hitter Cassie Orr, who had an obligation at the Hartford Fair, and senior libero Mady Jones, who is out with injury.

The Panthers return all of their statistical leaders from last season, but Hughes has been tinkering. Senior hitter Bree Creech will share the setting duties with junior Emily Bone, and sophomore Daizi Hardbarger is playing all around the floor this season to take advantage of her versatility.

"A lot of people were playing new positions they haven't played before, but they stepped up and communicated more," Creech said. "It's especially hard when you are missing a few players to communicate effectively."

Heath coach Shela Croom has senior setter Taliyah Holmes running the show. She can distribute the ball to senior softball duo Sydney Chapman and Renae Cunningham or Clark.

"Our four seniors are very positive with the underclassmen," said Croom, whose team eliminated Valley in the Division II postseason last fall. "We are looking forward to a great year. It was our first scrimmage. We had some little kinks, but we are excited. (The finish) was good for the girls' confidence."

Junior Caroline Robertson is Heath's libero, and classmate Logan Johnston and sophomores Kinley Kaminsky and Kyndall Spicer will be major contributors for the Bulldogs, who host Logan in a scrimmage Wednesday before hosting Utica to open the regular season on Aug. 25.

Valley was the strongest defensively of the four teams at the net thanks to the blocking of junior Rylee Sensabaugh and sophomores Makala Bennett and Calleigh Black. Seniors Pierce Anderson and Allie Judd, who transferred from Heath, provided help in the back.

"(The set against Worthington Christian) was a nice way to finish because we had been struggling the first few points," Creech said. "I am glad we got to put it away for the last point of the day."

The Panthers will be busy early next week, playing Monday in the Watkins Preview before hosting a quad scrimmage Tuesday. They open the season Aug. 20 at Bloom-Carroll.

ksnyder@newarkadvocate.com

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This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Strong finishes to scrimmage leave Licking Valley, Heath beaming