WHEELERSBURG — After finishing 26-1 last season with a district title under its belt, Wheelersburg’s volleyball program isn’t looking to rebuild. The Pirates are looking to reload.
After a loss to Tuscarawas Valley in a Division III regional semifinal, Wheelersburg said goodbye to just two seniors in Adyson Rase and Abbie Kallner … two players who were extremely important pieces to the puzzle.
However, with players such as Kaylee Darnell back in the fold this fall, there should be no reason to look for a letdown.
“Losing Adyson and Abbie is a huge downfall in terms of their leadership skills, as well as volleyball fundamentals. But I’m fully convinced that the upcoming players will fill their roles very well,” Darnell said. “With losing our two seniors, we will still have multiple returning starters which should help us in the long run. Overall, I believe we will be super successful in this upcoming season, and I’m excited for what is to come.”
Darnell will be one of multiple contributing returners, a group that includes the likes of Mallory Bergan, the team’s kill leader from last season, Kylee Barney, Alli Mcquay, Lauren Jolly and Emily Boggs.
Together, Bergan, Barney and Mcquay combined to post 74 percent of the team’s kill total … the trio posted 829 kills out of 1,115. Boggs had 191 kills while Jolly posted 289 digs defensively.
Put simply, when you look at last year’s final statistics, each of the names mentioned had played a role in the team’s success. With each returning this season, the Pirate can be even better than they were a year ago.
“Honestly, there’s nothing better than playing alongside girls like my teammates,” Darnell said. “Not only are they my teammates, but they’re my best friends as well. We all work so well together, and I wouldn’t want to play alongside any other girls. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us.”
Individually, Darnell accounted for 252 digs and seven blocks while adding 16 aces, 17 kills and 15 assists on the offensive end. Heading into her junior year, she’s hoping to round her game while growing as a leader for those aforementioned teammates.
“As a whole, I would like to improve on my strength and leadership,” Darnell said. “Becoming an upperclassmen, my role has to change, not only a player, but a person as well. In terms of positions, I feel like we are going to mix things up. I’m not sure where I will be playing this season, but wherever coach decides to put me, I will be sure to give it my all.”
Coach Allen Perry, who’s in his third season at the helm of the Pirates’ program, will be in charge of finding a fit for Darnell.
“Coach Perry is always willing to do whatever is best for our team,” Darnell said. “He prepares us mentally and physically for each and every game, helping us with anything that we need help with. I’m truly blessed to have a coach like him.”
The Pirates begin their season on Aug. 22 at West. While winning a Southern Ohio Conference title is certainly at the top of the to-do list, Darnell and her teammates want to get back to the regional level … and then advance.
“Looking back on the regional semifinal game [in 2018], our team as a whole has a lot of fundamentals to work on to become that successful again this season,” Darnell said. “Although fundamentals play a large role in success, I feel like if we stay focused, motivated, and work hard, we should make it back to Logan High School again, hopefully to advance further than we did last year.”
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