SHAC Volleyball Preview kicks off the season

By Marc Charpentier

defender of the people

Summer vacation has passed once again (just ask any teacher to check that out) and as the school year begins this week, so have the busy fall sports schedules everyone levels. Kicking off the high school volleyball season was the annual Southern Hills Athletic Conference Volleyball Preview, which was hosted on Friday, August 12 by North Adams High School.

All 10 SHAC teams were on hand to give the public their first taste of this year’s volleyball talent slate as five games went on, with no winners or losers, just two sets played to 21 points apiece.

First on the role was the debut of West Union freshman head coach Kiersten Rowe as the Lady Dragons fought Fayetteville, guided by the veteran statesman of SHAC volleyball coaches at Sharon Sheets. In the first set of action, the score was tight throughout with the Lady Rockets leading most of the way and pulling away late for the 21-14 victory. The second set was tied at 6 until the Lady Dragons collected 6 of the next 9 points to take the lead, eventually holding on for a 21-18 win and a two-set split.

“I’m pretty proud of the way we played,” Coach Rowe said after his debut. “We had stray balls at the end, we ran out of steam, but I got them going again and we were good to go. We still have a lot to work on but we still have a week of training before our first match. All the girls equalize and we always work as a team and I think we will be a well balanced team.

Next up for the county were the Manchester Lady Greyhounds, who faced the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs. The Lady Hounds are a senior team and in the first set on Friday night they seemed to struggle with some mechanics when they fell to the Lady Mustangs 21-16. The second set, however, was a different story as the Lady Hounds righted the ship and took control, sailing to a 21-10 win and a shortened game split.

Coach Annie Gustin is back for her second year in charge of the Peebles Lady Indians and her side were third on the schedule in Friday night’s preview against the Fairfield Lady Lions. The Lady Indians are an experienced team that should be at the heart of SHAC’s small school race and they also won part of their game. A service error from Fairfield gave Peebles the 21-19 victory in the first set, but the Lady Lions bounced back to win the second set by a final count of 21-13.

“I think our girls came out and played well, we’re super excited for the season,” coach Gustin said. “Obviously there are some pre-season issues to work out with communication as we try new things. Overall I thought it went well. We have a week to work on passing and defense. We have very good hitters, we just have to be able to pass and set them up.

After Eastern Brown swept Whiteoak in straight sets (21-18, 21-17), the final game of the evening saw host North Adams Lady Devils, eternal powers of SHAC, take on one of the rising teams of the conference, the Ripley Lady Jays, coached by former Manchester star Morgan Johnson.

The first set belonged to the Lady Devils who used a 7-0 run at the halfway point to fight their way to a 21-12 win. The second set also saw a series of runs – 4-0 North Adams, 5-0 Ripley, 5-0 North Adams, 3-0 Ripley, and it all saw the Lady Jays win the set 21-18.

“I told people that Ripley is one of the best teams in the league this year,” North Adams head coach Katie Ragan said. “As for us, it was our fifth and sixth sets of the day. I’m not looking for excuses, but we had a scrum on Friday morning. I think we played a good first set. We did too much. ‘mistakes in the second set (serving errors, hitting errors, bad passing, passing over the net, etc.). We have moments when we make very good plays. Then we can ruin 4 or 5 of them. in a row. You don’t have much time to recover when you only play until 21. We have to execute better.

The county’s four volleyball teams now have time to prepare for the opening of their regular seasons. North Adams will host Fairfield in conference on Friday August 19 and West Union will visit Eastern Brown the same evening. Peebles who travel to Piketon on Monday August 22 and Manchester Open on Tuesday August 23 on the road to Fayetteville in SHAC action.

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