Local prep volleyball players have taken to the courts and are set for a solid season across the county.
At Urbana, Coach Chuck Pack lost a lot of talent to graduation, including all-everything hitter Hunter Rogan, who really powered the Hillclimbers’ attack. Rogan led the state in kills in Division II.
“That’s a big hole we’ve got to fix,” Pack said. “Right now we’re trying to work on spreading out our attack a little more.”
Returning for Urbana will be Kim Asper, Nicole Brumbaugh, Megan Ridder, Taylor Adams and Mackenzie Bean. Newcomers to the varsity ranks will be Desi Johnson, Sam Zaborowski, Tianna Johnson, Jenna Adams and Maddy Johnson.
“Those five that are coming back, we’re hoping they can bring those other five along,” Pack said. “We’re just working on team chemistry and putting the most competitive team we can on the floor and see what happens.”
The girls in maroon and white also move back to the CBC Mad River Division and drop to Division III in postseason play. That will be a new look come tournament time.
“We have an all-new tournament experience coming our way. We’re trying our best. That’s all we can do,” Pack said.
At Graham, the Falcons will be dealing with a big loss of their own, with six-footer Kaitlin Trace going to play at Urbana University. She’ll be the tallest player for the Blue Knights this season.
“That’s a big loss for us,” GHS Coach Gaye Carafa said, adding that many of her other girls have good size. “That’s nice to have in there. Instead of teaching jumping, I’m teaching some other things.”
Graham will return Carly Carafa, Claire Comer, Skyler Doroda and Korynn Huffman, with new additions that include Brandi Ussher, Lexi Mullen, Hailey Kendell, Sara Hess and Lindsey Brayten.
“We’ve been working super hard in the gym and getting those newcomers enveloped in our program,” Coach Carafa said. “Some of the underclassmen will fill more prominent roles. I’m pretty excited about it. I had a really strong freshman class.”
Carafa will have a memorable season, to be sure, even in the unlikely event the Falcons under-perform. Carly, her daughter, is closing in on a school record for kills and will play at Wittenberg University next season. Since she’s already committed, that takes the pressure off the mother-daughter duo and will allow them to enjoy Carly’s final season at Graham.
“It has been a great experience. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Our mother-daughter relationship is stronger because of volleyball,” Coach Carafa said.
At West Liberty-Salem, the Tigers will feature returners Allie Yoder, Sydnee Payer, Tory Cordell, Breann Koons, Alex Burton, Kaylee Harrison, Hallie Strapp and Regan Hormann. Kaitlyn Chamberlain, Leah Kauffman and Cukki Kabua will each also find the mix.
“Our goal this season is to be more disciplined in all aspects of our game. We have focused on improving our play at the net in the preseason as well as hitting and defense,” WL-S Coach Annie Kauffman said. “We plan to focus on each individual match in an effort to reach our ultimate goal of competing for an OHC title.
“This group of girls has a strong work ethic. They enjoy each other on and off the court. The attitude in the gym has been great. Several of the players worked hard this past off-season improving their skills by playing club volleyball. We are communicating very well, and demonstrating great teamwork. We should be much improved over last season in our blocking and being able to finish at the net.”
At Triad, the returning letterwinners are Tori Thomas, Sydney Propst, Kendell Hughes and Bri Eaton. Other players who will play varsity include Kiki Zizzo, Lauren McCall, Kaitlyn Pence, Kristin Bailey, Jordyn Unger and Victoria Ripley.
“As a team, we’re focused on having a fun and successful season. We want to have a winning season, of course, but our record won’t be the only way we measure success. We want to play as a team and play to the best of our ability each game,” said Triad Coach Dayna Ober, in her first year returning to her alma mater. “My expectations as coach are that my players stay positive, be encouraging as well as uplifting toward their teammates and play up to their potential. I want to see them improve throughout the season. I have a really great group of girls, so I’m excited for the season to start.”
At Mechanicsburg, Emma Dunham will lead a team of returning juniors that includes Elly Schipfer, Taylor Ayars and Bella Link. New players will include Grace Layne, Ava Mayo, Macie Severt, Catie Hennigan, Audrey Ayars, Taylor Ruff and Mallory Blakeman.
“With some new players and a small roster this year we have made a bunch of positional changes and we are super excited with how it is working so far,” M’burg Coach Kassie Coffman said. “We plan on dressing some more young players and I suspect they will play some to help increase their skills.”
The Indians have faltered out of the gate, being bitten by injuries already.
“We have an incredibly small roster this year and a few injuries to begin the season. Our goal would be to get our girls healthy first and foremost and then to fiercely compete throughout the season,” Coffman said. “We are rearranging players to make sure our team can be as competitive as possible, even if that means sacrificing a jayvee team this year. Our girls our open-minded, dedicated and ready to take on any challenges thrown at us this season as we are already putting into place our ‘next man up’ mentality.
“I expect our team to be competitive this season because our girls our determined. They are ready to face new challenges and are eager to learn and grow throughout the season,” she added.