If you haven’t yet noticed, we’ve entered the month of July — which means the area’s prep athletes will soon again be competing in contests that matter.
With the start of high school volleyball season slated for the week of Aug. 19 — we know we’re a bit early, but we can’t contain our excitement — here’s a list of 10 local players to keep an eye on this coming fall.
Mallory Bergan | Senior | Wheelersburg
The Pirates welcome back their top hitter from last season after Bergan posted 317 kills and a 41 percent kill rate as a junior. The 5-foot-11 outside hitter also added 36 aces, 53 blocks and 342 digs to her stat sheet. Wheelersburg, which went 26-1 last season, lost Abbie Kallner and Aydson Rase to graduation but return each of their top four hitters. Bergan leads that group and has proven herself as a force to be reckoned with.
Carli Knight | Junior | Waverly
As a sophomore, Knight was nothing short of electric as she posted a team-high 372 kills … 209 more than her closest teammate. Knight’s dynamic play at the net speaks for itself but her versatility is what makes her so dangerous. Alongside her ability to put the ball on the floor with authority, she performs well at the service line and is an important piece to Waverly’s defense. The Tigers heavily relied on Knight to do a little bit of everything and will do the same this fall.
Ally Coriell | Junior | Minford
Minford was 18-6 overall and 9-5 in the SOC II last season. Ally Coriell was a huge reason why. Coriell played 72 sets and posted 227 kills. Her .259 hit percentage ranked second on the team and was a central reason why she found success. The Falcons were forced to say goodbye to 6-foot-2 middle hitter Ashley Blankenship, who led the team in kills. What’s that mean? Coriell will see more opportunities to punish the opposing defense. She’ll prosper from that opportunity.
Sophia Hassel | Senior | Notre Dame
You probably know or have heard about Hassel’s injury that kept her sidelined in the winter. But the senior is back and ready to roll for the Titans this fall. When she’s on the court and healthy, she’s just as important as anyone else standing beside her. Hassel will be Notre Dame’s returning kill leader after the graduation of Katie Dettwiller and Clara Hash. She’ll have chance after chance to find holes on the floor. Judging by her past, she’ll have no trouble doing so.
Jaelyn Warnock | Senior | Clay
Warnock is in a similar position as Hassel. The Panthers lost Jaelyn’s sister Jensen, as well as Taylor Lewis and Delanie Gilliland. Those three accounted for 964 of the team’s 1117 total kills, or 86.3 percent. Jaelyn Warnock posted 131 of her own alongside 53 aces, 19 blocks and 243 digs. She’s the Panthers’ most experienced returner and, arguably, their most talented. She’ll be the center of every opponent’s game plan but stopping her is easier said than done.
Shelby Easter | Junior | New Boston
Sticking in the SOC I, New Boston’s Shelby Easter turned in a magnificent sophomore campaign last fall. Easter led the Tigers with 160 kills and also tallied 24 aces, 39 blocks and 168 digs. New Boston returns its setter in Sammy Oiler, meaning Easter will already be accustomed to the sets she receives at the net. This could be the season she really raises eyebrows … which could be said about New Boston as a whole.
Haidyn Wamsley | Junior | Northwest
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well-aware of Wamsley’s athleticism as a whole. Fresh off a successful trip to the OHSAA Track and Field State Championships, Wamsley jumps — no pun intended — straight into volleyball, a sport where she posted a team-high 200 kills last season alongside 33 aces, 75 blocks and 195 digs. Her 5-foot-9 frame and vertical alone make her a problem at the net. She’ll led a group of Mohawks that could hush doubters this fall.
Faith Maloney | Sophomore | South Webster
Just a freshman last fall, Maloney quickly made her name recognizable among area volleyball circles. She led a Jeeps squad, one that finished 15-8 overall, with 215 kills, 66 aces and 64 blocks … all team-highs. Maloney’s upside is enormous as she continues to develop. As she pairs up with talented teammates like Mack Keller and Bri Claxon, she’ll only get better as time goes on. The Jeeps could also be a sleeper pick to make a lengthy tournament run.
Livi Shonkwiler | Junior | Minford
Depending on what offense Minford coach Rachael Stapleton decides to run, Shonkwiler could be the focal point of each game plan. As one of the team’s two setters last season, along with Makenzie Watters, she had 405 assists and a rate of 5.5 per set. She’s also extremely effective at the service line as her 42 aces and team-leading 96.7 serve percentage suggests. Shonkwiler is athletic enough to play just about anywhere on the court. She’ll thrive in whatever role she receives.
Megan Calvin | Senior | Portsmouth
Calvin is the Trojan’s most experienced returning hitter, like many others on this list. She brings energy, next-level capability and leadership on a nightly basis. Through 59 sets reported last season, Calvin posted 86 kills. 28 aces, 49 blocks and 134 digs … all team-highs. If Portsmouth is to compete for a league title or go on a tourney run, Calvin will be in the center of the mix.
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