• 48°

High school volleyball: West Rowan

West Rowan  

Head coach: Physical education teacher Jan Dowling (6th year at West, 87-42)

2019: 28-1 overall,  10-0 North Piedmont Conference (1st)

Playoffs: Lost regional final to West Henderson

Standouts: Senior outside hitter Kaylin (KK) Dowling, senior setter Allison Ennis and sophomore libero Brooke Kennerly were all-county

Key returners: Junior middle blocker Kelcie Love, junior setter Noe Gaeta, sophomore defensive specialist/libero Ashlee Ennis, junior defensive specialist Kenadi Sproul, senior middle blocker Emma Gaeta

New faces: Emma Clarke, Madelyn VonCanon, Anna Blackledge, Regan Roakes

Opening games: Won vs. East Rowan; lost at South Iredell

Outlook

MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan had the best team in school history in 2019-20 and now tries to reload.

Missing are Carly Stiller, who usually manned the middle;  Emma Gusler, a right-side hitter who had some big matches, and Tori Hester, a three-time county player of the year who was among the best players in county history. West was 81-25 during Hester’s four seasons, peaking with last season’s 28-match winning streak and a run to the regional final. Sweeping North Iredell, South Iredell and Carson is no easy feat, but the Falcons accomplished that in 2019.

Seven of the 10 playoff wins in school history have come in the last three seasons.

Hester was one of a kind, but the cupboard is far from bare. Eight players who had major roles in last season’s championships are still in uniform. Some promising newcomers have joined them.

There are two sets of returning sisters — Noe and Emma Gaeta and Allison and Ashlee Ennis.

The program has come along way in a short time. In 2014, West was ranked 401st in the state by MaxPreps after a 3-17 season. West was ranked fourth (all classifications) after last season.

The graduation losses were at the net, so the key to 2020 success will be the tall replacements such as Love and Clarke.

Love is more athletic after strenuous offseason workouts, while Clarke is a terrific athlete. She might have been West’s best player on opening night with seven kills and three blocks.

The sure thing as far as kills will be left-hander KK Dowling, who is an all-round player in the mold of Hester. She’s an exceptional hitter, defender and server and should be one of the county’s player of the year candidates.

Hitters are only as good as their setters, and the Falcons are in excellent shape in that area. Allison Ennis set last season as the Falcons started 17-0. When she went down with a foot injury, Noe Gaeta stepped in and the Falcons didn’t miss a beat, even in some intense playoff games. With both setters healthy, West has some options. They can split time or they can play together in a two-setter attack.

West also has several good people back for digs and serve-receive. Kennerly, the libero, had a special freshman season.

It will be interesting to see if West takes a step back or stays among the state’s elite teams. The NPC will be as good as ever, so there won’t be many easy nights.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Local

Rowan’s Sen. Ford ‘honored’ to be chosen as joint caucus leader

Local

City council approves six road repaving projects, encourages input on development priorities

Business

State names Rowan among most economically distressed counties

High School

High school volleyball: South Rowan wins another CCC match

Education

Catawba College’s Service of Lessons and Carols moves virtual

Local

Spencer’s Park Plaza financing gets OK from state’s Local Government Commission

Education

Kannapolis City Schools to hold public hearing on construction equity policy

Local

Drivers identified in I-85 double vehicle crash, fire

Local

Driver cited in two-vehicle Mooresville Road collision

Crime

Tractor stolen from Ritchie Road

Coronavirus

North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd tests positive for COVID-19

Crime

Blotter: Vehicles broken into overnight at Marriott, Comfort Suites hotels

Coronavirus

County reports two new COVID-19 deaths, two weeks of 50-case daily increases

Local

Red wolves have been busy growing up at Dan Nicholas Park

Local

Salisbury City Council to consider contract for street paving

Education

Catawba College honors employees for length of service

High School

High school football: Clay hopes for big senior season

Local

Helen, Ralph Brown contribute to Christmas Happiness to help people in need

Cleveland

Cleveland Police charge woman with attempted murder after Sunday night shooting

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases in Rowan continue to surge after 50 new cases added; 19% of total cases active

Local

Salisbury Police investigating accidental shooting at apartment building

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man arrested on felony counts of trafficking

Local

Motorcyclist airlifted following wreck on Jake Alexander Boulevard Sunday

Elections

Political Notebook: Senate Republicans disagree with Cooper administration halting CARES Act spending