Times Sports Editor
Clay City's volleyball players walked off the court following their scrimmage with Shakamak on Thursday night with the look of a confident squad. And for good reasons.
The Eels return four of six starters from a team that reached the sectional championship game before dropping a heartbreaking five-set decision to North Central (Farmersburg).
While the Eels bring back juniors Callie Dayhuff and Chloe Kittle along with seniors Brielle Drelick and Asie Jeffers, there are some changes for Clay City as players move around to fill the gaps left by graduated middle hitter, Lynsey Higgins and Shaya Stevenson, who is not playing volleyball this season.
Coach Lu Anne Anderson agreed that having some returning experience is nice, but there are some changes.
"We do have some girls back from last year and we're also running a freshman setter," Anderson said of the Eels. "It's a little bit different, we're changing some players around. Some of the girls that played last year had played for four years so that left a little bit of a hole, but I'm happy with what I've seen so far and with our scrimmage. These girls work really well together. They can't rely on just one, single player to put the ball away like in years past."
Replacing the 358 kills that Higgins had a year ago is a big part of the equation, but Anderson feels that the team will have more versatility this year.
"We relied a lot on Lynsey Higgins last year," Anderson said of the 5'10 middle hitter who signed to play volleyball at Vincennes University this fall. "I know in years past they also relied on one person, but this year it's got to be a whole team effort. We don't have that one power slammer, everyone will have to contribute, which I think is a good thing."
Clay City looks to Drelick (153 kills, 234 digs) to use her athleticism to handle one of the outside hitter spots, 5'10 Halli Brewer (49 kills, 13 blocks) and 5'10 Asie Jeffers (47 kills) will also man the net and provide the offensive punch. Meeghan Riggs is also another hitter for the Eels and is a senior.
Rather than relaying on just one hitter to provide most of the hitting, Anderson believes this year's team will give teams more to worry about.
Running the offense will fall in the young hands of freshman Emmie Kittle, who will have the task of taking over the spot left by Olivia Schindler (524 assists) and Stevenson (240 assists). However, Anderson feels that Kittle is performing admirably despite her youth.
"Emmie (Kittle) is our freshman setter," Anderson said. "She's Chloe's sister and she's been doing a good job for us. I think she had some nerves at first, but I think she's settled in there and the girls have helped her out."
On the defensive side, Clay City has moved Callie Dayhuff (107 kills, 38 assists, 335 digs) to the libero spot this season because of her versatility.
"On defense, we made a switch this year and moved Callie Dayhuff to libero, she's one of the best passers around," Anderson said of the 5'5 junior. "She's great on serve receive and picking up digs. I think our defense is going to pick up a lot this year."
Claire Miller, a 5'4 sophomore, steps up to the varsity level as a DS and provides the Eels some depth on defense this season.
Looking down the road to the postseason, Clay City will host the newly shaped sectional that will now include Eminence as Eels' foe North Central has moved to Class 2A. Sectional 57 will be a five-team grouping with Shakamak, Eminence, Union (Dugger), White River Valley and Clay City.
Coming off last year's 15-15 mark, 5-2 in the conference, Anderson believes the 2011 edition has great potential.
"I think our season will go as far as the girls take it. We can go far if they believe in themselves and have confidence," Anderson said of the season's prospects. "I think they'll build that as the season goes on."
2011 Clay City Volleyball
|Aug. 16||at Union||6 p.m.|
|Aug. 18||vs. S. Putnam||6 p.m.|
|Aug. 23||vs. Cloverdale||6 p.m.|
|Aug. 27||at Invitational||9 a.m.|
|Aug. 30||at Linton||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 1||at Owen Valley||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 6||vs. North Central||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 8||at Riverton Parke||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 12||vs. Sullivan||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 13||vs. Turkey Run||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 15||vs. Bloomfield||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 19||at Northview||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 20||vs. Rockville||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 22||at Eminence||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 27||at S. Vermillion||6 p.m.|
|Oct. 3||vs. Shakamak||6 p.m.|
|Oct. 4||at Eastern (Greene)||6 p.m.|
|Oct. 8||at Cascade Invite||9 a.m.|
|Oct. 10||vs. N. Daviess||6 p.m.|
|Oct. 11||vs. WRV||6 p.m.|
|Oct. 15||vs. Linton/S.Vermillion||10 a.m.|
|Oct. 20||Sectional (Clay City)||6 p.m.|
|Oct. 22||Sectional (Clay City)||TBA|