All four local volleyball teams will begin their seasons within the next week, and are eager to see what they can do on the court.
Crawfordsville returns core from last season
Despite a below average season last year, Crawfordsville coach Kelly Johnson has reason to feel optimistic about the upcoming season.
Abby Bannon and Isabel Viveros return for their senior seasons, and Allyson Barton is back for her junior campaign. In addition, the sophomore class that includes Olivia Reed, Alyx Bannon, and Shea Williamson are poised to take another step forward. Johnson also feels confident that two freshmen will also sprinkle into the varsity lineup.
“This team has a ton of potential and will be very fun to watch,” Johnson said. “We had a great summer and feel good about where we are at this point.”
In 2018 the Athenians finished 6-23 overall and winless in the Sagamore Conference. Crawfordsville has not won a league game since 2015 when they finished 18-13 overall and 3-4 in Sagamore Conference play. The Athenians fell 3-0 to Southmont in the sectional last year and will play in Sectional No. 20 with Benton Central, Frankfort, North Montgomery, Twin Lakes, and West Lafayette.
By The Numbers
Abby Bannon returns as the team kills leader from 2018 with 146. Last season Allyson Barton had 146 digs, while Olivia Reed had 112. Isabel Viveros led the team with 209 assists.
Johnson expects to be competitive throughout the season with a balance of offense and defense.
“We should be strong both offensively and defensively,” she said. “We have great cohesiveness as a team and are continually working to push one another to a higher level.”
Crawfordsville will open the season on Monday at Sheridan.
Fountain Central looks to compete
Last season Fountain Central struggled at times on the court, but coach Alyssa Larson is confident the Mustangs will show huge strides right out of the gate this fall.
“Last year was a growing year for us,” she said. “We struggled to finish games, but we looked stronger and better each game of the season. This year I expect us to continue that trend. We are working well as a team. I have a group of girls that want to play hard and want to win.”
In 2018 the Mustangs finished 4-21 overall and 1-6 in Wabash River Conference play. Fountain Central is in search of their first winning season since 2016 when they finished 24-3 overall and 7-1 in the conference. The Mustangs lost 3-0 to Clinton Prairie in the sectional last fall, and will play in Sectional No. 37 with Carroll, Clinton Prairie, Delphi, Lewis Cass, Rossville and Seeger this fall.
Big Names Back
Most importantly the Mustangs return a lot from last year’s team. Reagan Oswalt is back for her senior season, while four-year varsity player Alexis Griffin returns along with Stella Jones. Griffin led the team last season with 73 kills, while Jones recorded 72.
The Mustangs have no intentions of backing down this season, and want to return to the top of the league.
“Our main focus this year is working on being more aggressive offensively and more consistent defensively,” Larson said. “We have plenty to work on, but have made great gains over the summer and so far this season. We hope and expect to be a force within our conference. We want to grow as a team and individuals every time we step into the gym.”
Fountain Central opens the season at home next Thursday against Delphi.
Chargers full of new faces
Despite graduating six seniors last season, North Montgomery coach Jodi Webster sees success in the Charger’s near future.
“All in all we are a pretty youthful team,” she said. “With five new faces on the varsity court I know we have a lot to learn, but we also have so much potential and that gets me really excited about this group of girls as we enter the season.”
North Montgomery finished 8-23 overall in 2018 and 1-6 in Sagamore Conference play. The Chargers are in search of their first winning season since 2014. They lost 3-0 to Southmont last year in the sectional and will play with Benton Central, Crawfordsville, Frankfort, Twin Lakes, and West Lafayette in the sectional No. 20 this fall.
Who Is Back
The Chargers do return three key players from last year’s team in Emily Sennett, Khloey Surface, and Gracie Chapman.
Sennett had 72 kills, while Surface recorded 69. Chapman had 62 digs, and led the team with 432 assists.
“Gracie will play a big part in controlling the action in the front and finding her hot hand,” Webster said. “She knows her hitters well. We are focused on making a positive impact on the ball right from the go.”
Filling out the lineup for the Chargers will be senior Grace Little and sophomores Madie Welch and Trinity Schroeder on the front row, and Haley Burton and Mackenzie Shepherd on the back row.
“Haley and Mackenzie are seeing their first starts for the Chargers this year and are locked in to be controllers from first contact and make big defensive stops.”
North Montgomery will open the season on Tuesday at Covington.
Mounties eye sectional title
It is no secret that Southmont will be the team to beat on the volleyball court this season, and the Mounties aren’t satisfied with just an average season.
In 2018 the Mounties finished the season 23-11 and lost 3-1 in the sectional final to Greencastle. They finished 4-3 in Sagamore Conference play and tied for third in the league. This season Southmont makes the move down to Class 2A and will play with Cascade, Cloverdale, North Putnam, Parke Heritage, Riverton Parke and South Putnam in sectional No. 44.
Top Talent Returns
Reigning Journal Review player of the year Alexis Nelson returns for her senior season. As a junior Nelson recorded 464 kills and 263 digs. Sidney Veatch returns for her junior campaign, and led the Mounties with 26 blocks and 874 assists as a sophomore. Southmont also returns senior Emma Ward, junior Natalie Manion, and junior Kaley Remley. As a sophomore Remley recorded 263 digs.
“We return a lot of experience and talent from last year so that will serve us well,” Mounties coach Lauran Nichols said. “Especially in the beginning of the season when we are still trying to fill roles and secure a lineup. I will rely on my seniors to step up this year and lead our team.
Sectional Or Bust
Southmont improved their win total last season from 2017 by 13 wins, but the ultimate goal for this season doesn’t matter until the very end of the season.
“We want to win the sectional,” Nichols said. “This is a huge goal for us and we are in a new sectional. That has been a big motivator for us this summer and during preseason.”
The Mounties open the season on Saturday at Cloverdale.