by David Grimes
Cave Spring: Mastering its River Ridge District opponents will be the key this season for Cave Spring, as the Knights look to make a another ride deep into the playoffs.
“Whoever wins the district will have an easier path to the Final Four, but in the end it won’t really matter … mastering our district opponents will be the key to getting into the state finals,” said head coach Tamalyn Tanis, who is starting her 10th season at the helm at Cave Spring. The Knights finished second in the district before winning the district tournament, ending its season with a 21-6 mark after falling to eventual state champion Loudoun Valley in the state semis.
Returning for the Knights: Senior Morgan Shannon (OH/RS), who currently has 999 kills and was a first team all-state selection the last two seasons; senior Shannon Craighead (S), who was a first team all-state selection as a setter in 2010; senior Lauren Sledd, who has helped lead the team to the final four the past two seasons as an OH her sophomore year and as a libero last fall; senior Kelsey Sine (MB), who has developed into a very quick middle and decent blocker after coming off an injury her sophomore year; junior Alyssa McKinley (OH), who started as OH last season and now has a greater understanding of the offense, according to Coach Tanis.
Newcomers to the varsity program include junior Erin Holsinger (MB), who has entered the public school system for the first time. “She is extremely athletic with a very high vertical jump,” says Tanis. Junior Sarah Smith (OH/RS) was on the team last year and displayed her deadly serve in the state semis and sophomore Olivia Sass (RS/S), who gives the team more size on the RS and a good set of hands.
When asked about the team’s strengths and weaknesses, Tanis replied, “Our weakness is still our overall size compared to our neighbors down the road. However, what we lack in height we make up for in athleticism. Plus, the team is training very hard physically and ball control is always a huge emphasis for us so that we can run a fast tempo offense.”
As for Cave Spring’s outlook in 2011, Tanis noted, “We have a tough schedule this season with a tournament at Virginia Beach against mostly Group AAA schools. We also have another tournament scheduled with Western Albemarle, Loudoun Valley and Deep Run. The district will once again prove to be very competitive and tough. Blacksburg has shown much improvement the past two years, Salem is getting on the upswing, and Hidden Valley is huge as always.” The Knights open the season on Sept. 1 at Liberty Christian.
Hidden Valley: With six returning starters back from last year’s state semi-final team, Hidden Valley is once again looking to make the trip back to the Group AA state championships in Richmond this season. The Titans, who went 24-3 last fall, claimed the River Ridge District and Region IV crowns, before falling in the state semis under head coach Carla Poff, who is starting her seventh season at the helm. Returning this fall: senior Sarah Patterson (setter), who has committed to JMU; junior Jenny Clark (OH), senior Allison Burton (L); junior Lauren Thomas (RS), junior Caroline Boone (MB) and junior Sarah Gray (DS).
Those new to the varsity program this season are sophomore Madison Morris (MB), junior Emma Sweet (OH), junior Shannon Conway (RS), sophomore Skylar Kendrick (DS/L), sophomore Hannah Podeschi (S/RS) and junior Savannah Kramer (DS).
“We are tall and have lots of hitters and passers,” said Poff when asked about the team’s strengths. Poff sees her team’s top games being against Blacksburg and Cave Spring. As for the Titans outlook this season, “We hope to repeat, but have lots of work to do.” Hidden Valley opened its season on Tuesday, Aug. 23 by beating Patrick Henry in 3 games.
Northside: the Vikings look to defend their Blue Ridge District volleyball title this fall, as they return eight players off of last year’s team. Returning for another season for Northside, which finished 7-1 in the district and 14-11 overall, are senior Kathleen Carr (OH), junior Kelsey Jarrett (OH), junior Caitlyn Porterfield (S), senior Erin Thompson (MH), senior Rebekah Washington (OPP), senior Marta Jones (L), senior Kelley Sharpe (DS) and senior Danielle Taylor (DS).
Matches with Osbourn Park, the 7th Annual Viking Fall Classic and all of the Blue Ridge District encounters are the key contests for Northside this fall. “We are looking forward to great competition,” replied coach Crawford, when asked about the season outlook. The Vikings open their season on Saturday, Aug. 27, when they host the 7th Annual Viking Fall Classic starting at 9:30 a.m.
This year North Cross comes off back to back VISAA Div.3 state championships after beating Roanoke Catholic in last year’s final. With the loss of 4 starters, North Cross has their work cut out for them. Returning from last year, however, are senior all state setter Alexandra Martin and junior all state OH Gussie Revercomb. With the addition of newcomer jr. setter Lynsey Barker, 8th grader MB Piper Roe (5’11 and growing), and a host of JV and Varsity players that have stepped up to fill the vacant spots the Raiders feel that they can compete for the top honors again.
Jr. Ashley Donaho will step into the MB position, senior Nikki Bates from libero to OH, jr. India Helmer DS, sr. Shelby Lipes DS,RS, jr. Grace Cates MH, sr. Adrienne Wynd RS, sr. Sarah Kate Holley RS, and jr. Crystal Edwards MH will all add their talents to help North Cross on their quest for a 3-peat.
Roanoke Catholic: A new head coach at Roanoke Catholic will be counting on six returning players to carry the Celtics back to the VISAA, Division 3 state volleyball playoffs in 2011. The Celtics, who won the Blue Ridge Conference with an 8-1 mark and was second in the state tournament, will be led by Aaron King.
Returning for Roanoke Catholic, which ended their season with a 24-5 overall record are junior Ava Perez (S), who had 578 assists and 119 aces in 2010; junior Anna Barrera (DS/L), who tallied 54 digs; junior Maria Barrera (OH/DS), who notched 54 assists; sophomore Anne Deer (DS/L), who had 111 digs; junior Mairin Guilfoyle (OH/MB), who posted 181 kills, 121 aces and 166 digs; and senior Amie Scott (MB), who recorded 36 kills and 32 blocks.
New to the varsity program are freshmen Alexander Arnold (MB/OH) and Allison George (S/RS), sophomore Danielle Dorman (RS), junior Sarah Fraze (OH) and eighth-grader Ashley Deer (S/RS). “The youth of our team is a both a strength and weakness,” said coach King. “We know they [players] are going to make mistakes, but the potential is there for them to contribute.” The rookie coach sees the Celtics top games as those being with LCA, North Cross and Eastern Mennonite. “We will try to continue the success of last year’s team,” said King when asked about this season’s outlook.
Roanoke Catholic opens its season on Friday Aug. 26, with a road trip to Westover Christian Academy in Danville.