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Athletic Knights have high hopes for volleyball season

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

(Photo)
Shelbi Morris launches a successful kill against the Pioneers. [Order this photo]
By CAREY FOX

Times Sports Editor

Volleyball has been one of Northview High School's absolute strengths over the last several years as the program rarely skips a beat in reloading with talent produced from the North Clay program that is strengthened by players that play on club teams as well.

The Knights' program graduated four quality seniors from last season's team, including two of its leaders in kills (Kaylee Clark and Elizabeth Emmert). Both players were very versatile as Emmert was second in assists and Clark was second in digs.

The team will be pretty young this season with a combined five freshmen and sophomores on the varsity roster. However, youth doesn't mean that the team isn't very talented and the program's goals for the season haven't changed according to coach Scott McDonald.

"Early in the season, I am looking for consistency in our younger players and producing the way they are capable of," McDonald said. "Even though we are very young, we are also very talented and athletic. We have set lofty goals for this season, with a WIC championship and a sectional championship."

The team boasts a pair of talented seniors in Ashlen Buck, who has been a stalwart on defense during her career with the Knights. Buck had 588 digs last season and 32 aces from the service line. She's joined by Briana Cook, who led the squad with 449 assists last year to go with 156 digs, which was third on the team.

Their experience and leadership are invaluable in helping to prepare some of the freshmen that are on this year's varsity squad.

"Ashlen and Briana have really set the tone in practice getting ready for the season," McDonald said. "They have embraced the roles as leaders and taken the younger players under their wings. They are constantly communicating with everyone in terms of where to be and what to expect in every game situation that occurs."

The junior class includes the team leader in kills as Brylie Riddell returns following a standout season that saw her ring up 318 successful attacks. She also had 123 digs, 43 blocks and a team-high 60 aces. She's joined by Terre Haute North transfer Hannah Willocks and Alexus Bex, who had 44 kills, 19 aces and 86 digs last season.

Sophomores Audrey Clark (138 digs) and Shelbi Morris (146 kills) each saw starting action last season and continue to play an integral role after joining the list of freshmen to start in their first year. That list grows this season as Taylor Hess, McKenzi Kumpf and Mikayla Rowan each saw significant playing time in the season opening victory over Mooresville.

(Photo)
Ashlen Buck led the Knights in digs last season. [Order this photo]
McDonald credits club volleyball as well as the middle school program at North Clay for preparing players to contribute immediately.

"The value that travel volleyball plays in high school is immeasurable. The kids that we have that play club, come in with a ton of experience playing against top level players all across the country. When they come in as freshmen, they are ready to play at that level without question," McDonald said. "The success that our kids have had as freshmen is all the proof that is needed.

In the five years I've been here, Kaylee Clark, Hannah Hayes, Ashlen Buck, Brylie Riddell, Shelbi Morris, and Audrey Clark have all played varsity as freshmen and done very well. Combining the time that they play club, with North Clay's program has allowed our kids to play together prior to coming to the high school to develop the chemistry we want. The coaches at North Clay are running the program that we want at the high school and the kids are not lost when they come over."

Northview already appears to have added some athleticism this year and the crop of newcomers gives the team more height than they've had in years past according to McDonald.

The first noticeable strength that we have is our height and jumping. We run out three girls that are near six feet tall and are all very good jumpers as well," McDonald said. "We will be able to hit over the top of a lot of blockers. The other strengths that this team has is ball control, energy, and chemistry. This team seems to really enjoy playing together and we have nothing but team first kids. Volleyball is a sport that is critical to have this chemistry. When our teams have that, we have had a lot of success."

Northview Varsity Volleyball schedule

Aug. 15at MooresvilleW, 3-0
Aug. 16at Greencastle-
Aug. 18vs. T.H. North7 p.m.
Aug. 22vs. Rockville6 p.m.
Aug. 25vs. Edgewood6 p.m.
Aug. 27at Avon Tourney9 a.m.
Sept. 1at Linton6 p.m.
Sept. 3at Barr-Reeve Tourney9 a.m.
Sept. 6at Cascade5:30 p.m.
Sept. 10vs. Sullivan10 a.m.

Vs. Brown County

Sept. 12vs. West Vigo7 p.m.
Sept. 19vs. Clay City6 p.m.
Sept. 20vs. T.H. South6 p.m.
Sept. 29at S. Vermillion6 p.m.
Oct. 1at Boonville Invite10 a.m.
Oct. 5at Owen Valley6 p.m.
Oct. 8at N. Montgomery TourneyTBA
Oct. 10at Danville6 p.m.
Oct. 11vs. Crawfordsville6 p.m.
Oct. 13vs. Plainfield5 p.m.
Oct. 20at Plainfield Sectional6 p.m.
Oct. 22at Plainfield Sectional11 a.m.