NEW MARKET — The second season starts for girls volleyball this week, and Southmont leads off action by playing in the first match of the 2A tournament they are hosting.
The Mounties will take on South Putnam at 7 o’clock tonight at Bob Tandy Gym, the only match tonight in the seven-team sectional 44. Action continues with two more first-round matches Thursday, and the semifinals and finals are Saturday.
South comes in with a 3-17 season mark, with no wins in the Sagamore Conference, but all that is behind the team as there are no Sagamore teams in their sectional.
With a single senior on the team, it has been a year to build and construct, but the Mounties are looking forward to the challenge.
“We played South Putnam in a tournament early in the season and we were playing without Liz (Elizabeth Conkright) setting,” co-head coach Casey Phillips said. “We still hung with them.”
Conkright, that lone senior, leads South with 117 assists on the season, so her impact in the tournament will be big for the Mounties.
She will be setting the two juniors who led the team in kills.
Regan Remley had 103, and Chelsea Veatch 91, to pace the squad.
When the ball comes back the other direction, Tayler Anderson has been there to start the return. The junior has a team-best 235 digs.
Veatch with 139 and Remley with 120 are also in triple-digits on digs. Remley is the team leader with 37 service aces.
“Chelsea, Regan and Tayler are our key players,” Phillips, who is head coach with Erin Barry, noted. “We want every ball we can to go to Tayler in the back row. Her passing is great. We switched Chelsea to middle back on defense and she reads the ball so well out there, plus she’s quick, which helps. Regan has great court awareness. She’s not the tallest hitter but gets the kills we need.“
As the young team has progressed, there have been improvements.
“Our defense has improved,” Phillips said, “allowing us some longer rallies and picking up balls that wouldn’t have gotten picked up in the beginning of the season. A real highlight has been that this team has never given up and played in close matches all season.”
South Putnam finished the season 17-7.
The winner of tonight’s match moves to the first semifinal match on Saturday against Riverton Parke at 11 a.m. The championship match is scheduled for 7 Saturday night.
It’s a new season for both teams, and the Mounties know there is a challenge, but that it is attainable.
“Communication, staying positive and playing smart, are the keys for us,” Phillips said. “If we go out and play our best game, we have a shot to continue on.”