WHEELERSBURG — After yet another successful season last fall where it finished 26-1 overall, Wheelersburg’s volleyball program is hoping to continue a lengthy trend.
The Pirates will try and do so behind a plethora of returners including the likes of Mallory Bergan, Alli Mcquay, Kaylee Darnell, Emily Boggs and Kylee Barney. That list goes on and on.
Last season, Wheelersburg fell in a Division III regional semifinal to Tuscarawas Valley in a three-game sweep. Is this fall the year coach Allen Perry and company get over the hump?
Here are five things you need to know about the Pirates before you see them live:
- Between Bergan and Mcquay alone, Wheelersburg brings back 572 kills, or 51.3 percent of the team’s total from last fall. Bergan, who had a team-high 317 kills alongside 36 aces and 342 digs, was a second-team all-district selection last year. Mcquay can claim the same honor after posting 255 kills, 241 digs and a team-high 62 service aces. What’s more impressive about Bergan and Mcquay is that the duo owned kill percentages of 40.3 and 41 from a season ago. That’s in a total of 1,407 attempts — 633 for Mcquay and 774 for Bergan. You can expect the Pirates to look to the duo again, and often.
- The two aforementioned names aren’t the only players opponents are going to have to worry about stopping at the net. Boggs and Barney fit that description as well. Barney had 257 kills to her name while Boggs tallied 191. Both played in all of the team’s 83 sets last year and bring back a ton of experience. Boggs also had a team-high 98.8 serving percentage. If Bergan and Mcquay aren’t swinging, Barney and Boggs will be.
- Defensively, Darnell and junior Lauren Jolly will likely lead the charge … alongside Bergan, Barney and Mcquay at the net. Jolly had 282 digs as a sophomore while Darnell had 252. Jolly netted 192 serve receptions while Darnell saw 135 come her way. Both are athletic, both are skilled and both will compliment Bergan well, who saw a team-high 256 serve receptions. The team averaged 67.4 digs per match and 21.4 per set. In other words, it’s not easy to get the ball on the floor against the Pirates’ speedy defense.
- In the SOC II, Wheelersburg has to come in as the favorite. Why? Over the past four seasons, the Pirates are 55-1 in league play … the last loss came way back on Sept. 17, 2015 at Waverly. Speaking of the Tigers, they should pose the biggest obstacle for ‘Burg to jump in the SOC II. Waverly was 12-2 in the SOC II last fall with its two losses coming, of course, to Wheelersburg in sweeps.
- As for key non-conference schedule dates, Wheelersburg will travel to Alexander for the Spartan Invitational on Sept. 14 and host Notre Dame on Oct. 2. Last year in Alexander, the Pirates beat Clay (2-0), Nelsonville-York (2-1) and Alexander (2-0). This season, they’ll again likely see competitive matches there. Notre Dame is, well, Notre Dame. If you’re looking for a packed house to watch volleyball in, circle that date on your calendar.