VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW

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Returning experience to lead Athenians in 2020

The Crawfordsville volleyball team improved its win total by eight from 2018 to 2019, and with a roster loaded with returning talent, the Athenians are hoping to see another big jump this season.

“Experience is a huge key to success,” longtime Crawfordsville coach Kelly Johnson said. “We learned a lot last year as a young team and now we are ready to be winners.”

The Athenians posted a 14-14 record last season, and will look for their first winning season since going 18-13 in 2015.

Johnson believes her squad has made the most of their opportunity since returning to the gym in early July, after losing all of the spring and June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have worked hard every day we have had in the gym and are doing our very best to stay healthy.”

Allyson Barton, Alyx Bannon, Macy Bruton, Hallie Gayler, Olivia Reed, Laine Schlicher, and Shea Williamson all return for the Athenians, while Johnson expects Liddy McCarty, Halle Elliott, and Jessica Tribble to make the jump to varsity this season.

Mustangs hoping for big jump in 2020

VEEDERSBURG — The Fountain Central volleyball team is ready to make a big jump in 2020.

After an 8-19 season last fall, coach Alyssa Larson believes her team is ready to compete consistently.

“The main focus has been upping our intensity and working as a team,” she said. “We had moments where we showed these things last year, but it needs to be constant this year. When we play with intensity, the hustle and aggression come naturally.”

The Mustangs return Lillie Fishero, Trinity Lindquist, Marley Massey, Larissa Bowers, and Chloe Golia, and welcome Brooke Kirkpatrick and Jerzi Hershberger to the varsity squad. 

And the goals for Fountain Central are very simple.

“We want to compete for the conference title and compete in every game we play,” Larson said. “We want to get better each game and grow as a team.”

Larson also says the Mustangs have taken advantage of their time in the gym the last six weeks after missing time in the spring and June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our summer was short, but each time we were in the gym was spent focused and working hard,” she said. “The girls came in ready to work and we got better each day.  Having to keep distance has been hard, but the girls have overcome each obstacle presented.”

Hutson takes over North 

LINDEN — The Whitney Hutson era is underway for the North Montgomery volleyball program.

The Chargers have struggled of late, earning their last winning season in 2014, but Hutson is excited to get contributions from her entire team in 2020.

“Each player on the team carries their own specific key to our team,” she said. “It is exciting to see some familiar faces that did not play last season return to play this year.”

North Montgomery was unable to workout during the spring and early part of the summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the transition into a new coach that much tougher, but Hutson is excited with the improvement her team has shown.

“The team has put in the effort this summer while we weren’t allowed to come together as a team by going on runs and doing strength and speed workouts at home,” she said. “I believe the pandemic has really shown the girls that anything can be taken away from you in a blink of an eye, so we need to make the best of what we have at that moment.”

The No. 1 goal for the Chargers in Hutson’s first year is to regain competitiveness.

“My goal is to revive the confidence and competitiveness within the team,” she said. “I want the girls to have a competitive mindset and believe they can compete with any team.”

Mounties still aiming high

NEW MARKET — In 2019, the Southmont volleyball team won a county title, posted a 24-11 record and won its first IHSAA Sectional title since 1993.

Goals and expectations remain the same for 2020 as the Mounties return a key core of players, despite graduating Lexi Nelson, who was an all-state selection last season.

Libero Natalie Manion, Kaley Remley, Chelsea Veatch, Reagan Remley, and IUPUI commit Sidney Veatch all return this season for a Southmont team that fell to eventual Class 2A state champions Heritage Christian in the regional final last fall. 

“Communication will be key this year, especially when we have to wear masks,” Southmont coach Lauran Nichols said. “All of my players are very athletic and talented, but it will take them coming together as a team to ultimately be the most successful they can be. We’ve got to remember to enjoy the game, have fun, and play hard — that will be a lot of our focus starting out this season.”

Nichols also expects Makia Pierce, Dara Watson, and Abbey Gass to contribute on the varsity this season. 

The one Achilles’ heel the Mounties faced in 2019 was a trio of Sagamore Conference losses, an area where Nichols hopes to improve.

“I think as a team we just have to go into those games with confidence and ready to compete at the highest level,” she said. “If these girls play to their potential, we will have a lot of success this season.”  

Southmont is ranked No. 9 in the Indiana High School Volleyball Coaches Association Class 2A preseason poll.

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