Volleyball Preview

Volleyball Preview

By Nelson Coffin
nelson@iaamsports.com

A full slate of conference battles will usher in the 2018 volleyball campaign next week with the featured matchup of defending A and B conference champs, Mount de Sales Academy and Annapolis Area Christian School, respectively, taking center stage on the Sailors’ home court Sept. 7.

Meanwhile, two-time defending C Conference champion St. Frances Academy will get its first taste of B Conference action when its hosts Bryn Mawr the same day.

Teams are listed in alphabetical order and updates and additions will be added as they are received.

Many thanks to all of the coaches who have responded so far.

ANNAPOLIS AREA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
COACH: JOSIAH WOLF
2017 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 10-0
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 17-1
OUTLOOK: After claiming the B Conference crown last year, the Eagles have been promoted to the A Conference and will ask senior libero Grace Williamson, senior middle hitter Grace Knotts, senior defensive specialist Nicole Garner, junior middle hitter Skylar Emert, junior outside hitter Becca Short (Jr. OH) and sophomore outside hitter/defensive specialist Milan Gomillion to keep the team in the hunt. “The Eagles are ready and excited for the intensified challenge of moving up to the A Conference,” Wolf said. “With an experienced defense and a powerful offense, we have high hopes for our inaugural season in the A.”

ARCHBISHOP SPALDING
COACH: SCOTT ROMBACH
2017 A CONFERENCE RECORD: 6-4
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 11-6
OUTLOOK: Expect big things out of junior outside hitter Jacey Lewis, senior defensive specialists Caitlin Iley, and Megan Mobley, sophomore outside hitter Jillian Hunter and junior setters Taryn Crone and Alyssa Gunther for the Cavaliers. “I think we will finish towards the top of the IAAM,” Rombach said. “Lewis is entering her third season on varsity and I am looking for her to continue to grow as one of the top players in the league. Also looking to the seniors for their leadership and experience to help the team be competitive.”

BETH TFILOH
COACH: KEN PIERCE
2017 C CONFERENCE RECORD: 2-7
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 2-8
OUTLOOK: Senior Jamie Benhamou and junior Ilanit Abraham will join an influx of promising freshmen and sophomores this fall that Pierce said will be expected to “make huge impacts. We are looking to build on a solid effort from the end of last year. While we didn't make it past the first round of playoffs, we were playing our best ball at the end of the season.”

CHAPELGATE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
COACH: STEPHANIE SMITH
2017 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 4-6
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 5-10
OUTLOOK: Senior setter Emily Baldwin and senior outside hitter Evan Nesslage will join junior outside hitter Jess Lucas, junior libero Olivia Sunde and junior middle hitter Joi Thorton to form the core group for the Yellow Jackets this fall. Look for junior middle hitter Julija DeVance to log quality minutes as well.

FRIENDS SCHOOL
COACH: TYLER WIDEMAN
2017 C CONFERENCE RECORD: 6-3
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 11-6
OUTLOOK: A pair of experienced players, senior outside hitters Lulu Whitmore, the leader in service aces, and Hannah Goodenough, will pace the Quakers this fall. “We have a very young team this year and it will be a developmental season,” Wireman said. “One of our biggest obstacles will be communication and team unity, but I am excited to watch the team grow together as the season unfolds. I want to instill a focus on intensity and a passion for the game in each of our players.”

GLENELG COUNTRY SCHOOL
COACH: DENNIS SEIBEL
2017 C CONFERENCE RECORD: 6-2
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 8-7
OUTLOOK: The Dragons will lean on senior outside hitter/setter Asya Loeb, senior middle blocker Joy Hursey, senior outside hitter Kaelyn Gloyd, junior middle blocker Sydni Williams and junior setter Melissa Jacob this fall. “With the move of St. John’s Catholic Prep (2017 regular season champion) and St. Francis Academy (2017 tournament champion) to the B Conference, I expect that the teams to beat in the C Conference this season will be Friends School and St. Timothy’s,” Seibel said. “I believe that our team will be competitive again in the C Conference after finishing the regular season last year in a tie for second place in a 9-team conference.” Loeb, a three-time All-Star, led last year's team with 113 assists was one of the team's leading servers with 50 service aces. She added 51 kills, slightly behind Hursey’s 69. Gloyd’s passing was another key element for a team that boasted 53 kills from Williams and 74 assists from Jacob.

JOHN CARROLL SCHOOL
COACH: GREG CULLISON
2017 A CONFERENCE RECORD: 3-7
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 8-11
OUTLOOK: The Patriots are hoping to find the right fit at setter and libero to meld with senior middle blockers Kirstin Huggins and Katie Scheidhauer, senior outside hitter Mallory Lyon, junior outside hitter Emma Ritter and senior opposite hitter Lauren Golya. “We are counting on senior leadership at key positions to improve over the course of the year,” Collision said. “We are very inexperienced at setter and libero, but that's an opportunity for someone to fill the void. As always, improving on serving and passing will be a constant challenge.”

KEY SCHOOL
COACH: JONATHAN COSLICK
2017 C CONFERENCE RECORD: 3-6
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 7-8
OUTLOOK: Led by seniors Alex Reichardt (outside hitter), Sloane Butler (middle) and Racheal Fisher (libero), the “Obezags are looking to build upon our successes from the second-round playoff run in the 2017 season,” Coslick said. The loss of seven seniors to graduation will be offset by seven newcomers joining four returners. “Our preseason has been a time of growing skills, on-court presence, and meshing the new players in with our program,” Coslick said.

MARYVALE PREPARATORY SCHOOL
COACH: MELISSA LITTLE
2017 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 9-1
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 12-5
OUTLOOK: Rising to the A Conference won’t be easy for the Lions, yet they will make the move with two of the more dynamic players in the league, senior outside hitter Kayla Koch and junior middle hitter Claire Neff. “Kayla is the most veteran player on the court and it can be seen by her level of consistency and composure. She was also an all-conference player last year as a junior. You will remember Claire from her tenacity on the court and her extremely powerful attack. She is definitely a player to watch. She was an all-conference player last year as a sophomore and gives you chills she is so good.” As for moving up, Little said that her team has embraced the challenge. “This will be the first year that Maryvale will be competing in the A Conference. We had made it to the finals in the B Conference the past two seasons, and winning it in 2016. This will be a new challenge for our program but one that we are willing to accept. I am confident that we will be giving our competitors a run for their money. If you are looking for an exciting match this season come watch the Maryvale Volleyball team — I don't think you will be disappointed.”

MERCY HIGH SCHOOL
COACH: MATT MARION
2017 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 1-9
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 4-13
OUTLOOK: “Savanna Foertsch is a senior who hit outside last year and has transitioned to setter,” Marion said. “She’s done a wonderful job learning a new position.” Three other major reasons for optimism are junior outside hitter Destiny Edwards, sophomore outside hitter Amber Medina and junior opposite hitter Karissa Kozlowski. “There’s been a different feel about the team this year,” Marion added. “There’s been an intensity every day at practice that has surpassed previous teams. They’re competing hard against each other, making sure to improve every drill, which has been fun to coach. We have a great mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen. Our seniors and juniors will be great role models for the younger girls. They have such passion for the game, which is visible when they play. It’ll be exciting to watch them improve and come together.”

MOUNT DE SALES ACADEMY
COACH: PAT DAYTON
2017 A CONFERENCE RECORD: 10-0
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 14-2
OUTLOOK: Middle blocker Chidinma Onukwugha and outside hitter Mary Grace Goyena, both of whom are 6-feet, join setter Kelsey Miller as celebrated members of the Sailors’ memorable rookie class that propelled them to the A Conference crown for the fifth time in program history. Look for de Sales to set the pace again in the new-look A Conference.

NOTRE DAME PREPARATORY SCHOOL
COACH: GLORIA PEELING
2017 A CONFERENCE RECORD: 5-5
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 8-8
OUTLOOK: With returning senior outside hitters Julia Franzoni and Sarah Rose back in the fold, NDP has the potential to have a very successful season, Peeling said. “The team is deep in talent with strong hitters that have the potential to be explosive and setters that are disciplined and hard working,” she added.

OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
COACH: NICOLE GARTRELL
2017 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 2-8
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 6-11
OUTLOOK: According to Gartrell, senior outside hitter Destiny Barrera has assumed the role of the "go-to hitter" and is expected to handle most of the hitting duties. “Destiny has worked very hard during the off season and could be a formidable hitter in the conference,” Gartrell added. Senior middle blocker Lexi Lilly has shown her ability in three scrimmages, earning praise from her coach for smart play. Senior Alex Reynolds and junior Alex Snodgrass will split time at setter while juniors Rachel Potter and Halle Kerr will anchor the back row.

ROLAND PARK COUNTRY SCHOOL
COACH: AMANDA EICH
2017 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 4-6
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 6-9
OUTLOOK: Returning standouts include libero, Annie Ho, setter Kayla Velez, and middle hitter Gabby Franks for a young Reds squad that Eich said is “eager to learn, work hard, and play with high energy.”

ST. MARY’S HIGH SCHOOL
COACH: REBEKAH KRUDER
2017 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 8-2
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 14-4
OUTLOOK: Because senior setter Sydney Heatley, senior outside hitter Liz Harris and junior middle hitter Alli Cherry combined for 141 kills last year, the Saints should be back in the hunt in ’18. Junior defensive specialist Marielle McAteer and junior libero
Olivia Beach lend more stability to a team seeking its first-ever IAAM title. “We have a lot of seasoned players on our team this season,” Kruder said. “With six defensive specialists this year, we have a strong serve receive.”

ST. PAUL’S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
COACH: KELLI WILKINSON
2017 A CONFERENCE RECORD: 6-4
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 9-6
OUTLOOK: “Despite the graduation of All-Conference performers Monet Peoples and Morgan Hill, the Gators hope to be in contention at the end of the season,” Wilkinson said. “Transfer students Shelby Lucas and Abigail Snyder, along with junior Jalen Dickerson, will add some depth and offensive firepower to the team.” Wilkinson added that the Gators will have one of the youngest teams in the conference for the second year in a row after appearing in the last two A Conference championship matches.

ST. TIMOTHY’S SCHOOL
COACH: JESSICA YAGER
2017 C CONFERENCE RECORD: 6-3
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 7-6
OUTLOOK: The team’s only seniors, outside hitter and captain Grace Anderson and libero/defensive specialist Maya Jans, will work with junior setter Hannah Mays and sophomore middle hitter Bri Rider to keep St. Tim’s in contention this fall. “I am really looking forward to the season getting underway,” Eager said. “We have a young and eager team ready to learn and grow together.”

ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI
COACH: TAMARA LESLIE
2017 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 7-3
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 11-5
OUTLOOK: Top returners include senior setter Trinity Thomas (443 assists, team-high 64 aces, 36 kills), senior right side Olivia Mitchell (153 kills, 12 solo blocks, 68 digs, 37 aces) and senior libero/defensive specialist Colleen Blasko (97 digs). “(Olivia) is my strongest hitter and will play a bigger role in the offense this year. She has a powerful swing and will keep everyone on their toes,” Leslie said. This year is more of a building year for varsity. We lost a lot of key players last year so we are working to get our younger girls adjusted to playing a faster game."