Volleyball season rolling
Only five of last season’s 14 all-county volleyball players graduated, so the sport could make a little noise in the county this fall.
It’s never easy for Rowan teams, as volleyball is a prime-time sport in neighboring Davidson and Iredell counties, but coaches are optimistic. South Rowan, Carson, East Rowan and North Rowan return two all-county players apiece.
South has the best chance to be really good. The Raiders could be one of the better teams in the NPC and shouldn’t have any trouble nailing down a berth in the 3A state playoffs.
West Iredell, the runner-up in 3A last season, lost a lot of players as well as coach Kelly Burdeau, but the Warriors are the team to beat until someone can prove otherwise. South plays West Iredell Tuesday and also takes on a good Carson team that has been building for a while on Thursday.
There are two new coaches in the county this season with Meredith Ballou leading Salisbury and Mandy Mills taking over at North Rowan.
Former North coach Norma Wiedenhoft is now assisting at South. South’s Jan Dowling, East’s Sandy Basinger, Carson’s Trish Hester and West’s Deanna Hrutkay return as head coaches.
South lost lots of size when Katie Wise, Katherine Van Wieren and Kim Wilson graduated, but it still has a very athletic group led by Taylor May, who won Rowan County Player of the Year honors as a junior.
Senior setter Krista Haywood was all-county in 2007, and Kayla Morrow spent a lot of her summer working on volleyball and played in a national Junior Olympics event in Arizona.
Amber Waldroup, Molly Garrett, Sam Goins and Nicole Barringer also came through as South started 3-0, including wins over Northwest Cabarrus and Statesville.
Carson returns all-county players Jennifer Hough and Taylor Whitley, although Whitley, the team’s setter, has been out with an ankle injury.
Sarah Marshall piled up digs, Breckin Settlemeyer led in blocks and kills and Shanna Stewart did a lot of things well as Carson beat East Rowan and played a tight match with Mooresville early.
East will miss Lauren Cress, but it returns all-county seniors Nicolle Bradway, a strong hitter, and Haili Everhart.
The other two seniors ó Haley Barrier and Shanunda Carroll ó are exceptional athletes. Basinger also is looking for big things from Whitley Barrier, Mallory Drew and Carsen Byrd.
All-county players Olivia Izze and Mackenzie Heglar will be hard to replace at West Rowan, which split its first two outings.
West has four seniors ó Tiffany Eggers, Kathleen Harrison, Magen Shipton and Ansley Wright.
Junior Ashley Dutton has height and was a big factor last season. Hrutkay also is counting on Alicia Turner and young setters Breeann Lambert and Lela Moore.
West Davidson, Ledford and East Davidson always have powerhouse teams in the CCC, but North should be very competitive with returning all-county players Kristin Holshouser and Blue Kriska.
North also is banking on intimidating Quon Cuthbertson, veteran Ja’ Lesa Stalling, defensive specialist Cree Turner, Marissa Herchler and Lauren Snider.