by David Grimes
With several matches already in the books, a group of young and talented girls are working hard this season to bring Patrick Henry High School its sixth-straight Western Valley District volleyball title.
In their first two weeks, the Patriots have recorded a 3-1 non-district mark. Their wins include E.C. Glass (25-19, 25-19, 25-27, 28-26), Group AAA power Osbourn Park (25-14, 23-25, 18-25, 25-10, 15-4) and Salem (25-22, 25-12, 25-17). While the only blemish thus far was a season-opening lost to Hidden Valley (21-25, 20-25, 13-25).
Gone from the last year’s team, that finished 10-0 in the district, are the likes of Liz Brailsford and several other key players. Brailsford is considered one of the best players in school history. A number of returning players are being counted on this season to keep the Patriots tradition going. They include junior Caroline Brailsford (Setter), junior Sarah Miller (OH), senior Cathy Ren (RS), junior Morgan Robinson (L/DS), senior Elizabeth Higgs (OH), junior Lauren Deck (M) and junior Paige Pest (M).
New to the varsity program are freshman Haley Arnold (RS), junior Brianna Millner (M), junior Tierra McGhee (RS), sophomore Claire Prince (DS) and sophomore Samantha Edge (OH). “We have strong setting and passing, plus we are strong on offense,” said veteran head coach Patty Sheedy, when asked about the team’s strengths in 2011. Ask for a weakness thus far, “We’re not tall,” added Sheedy.
The coach sees Hidden Valley and Cave Spring, two of the top programs in the River Ridge District, along with WVD foe Franklin County, as being the Patriots’ top matches this season.
Patrick Henry hosted Hidden Valley in a re-match on Thursday night (Sept. 8) and will entertain Cave Spring on Thursday, Sept. 15. “Our goals this season are to win the district and make the finals of the Northwest Region,” said coach Sheedy.