Western Brown and Williamsburg continued their mastery of the SBAAC last season.
The Broncos have won outright or shared 13 of the last 16 American Division titles while the Wildcats have been part of 10 of the past 16 National Division crowns.
Western Brown has senior Olivia Young, the reigning American Division player of the year, back to lead the charges in 2021.
Burg was 12-0 in the National while Western Brown was 8-2 and edged Batavia by one game.
Rick Seeling inherits a veteran team in his first year as the Blanchester volleyball coach.
However, Seeling admits the Ladycats will have to scrappy in all phases of the game.
“We are not a tall team with our tallest players only 5-9, but we will be very aggressive on both sides of the net,” said Seeling, who replaces long-time coach Jenna Weisflock atop the BHS program. “We are expecting a winning record even with a young team. I am expecting to see a very aggressive and exciting style of volleyball here this season.”
Big-hitter Caili Baumann was a senior last season. Setter Summer Schutte and outside hitter Madison Creager will be the leaders for BHS.
Seeling will be assisted by Jenny Sipple at the high school level with Brianna Gillis as the seventh and eighth grade coach.
BHS was 6-15 last season, Seeling said, but there are seven letterwinners and three starters returning. Seeling said the addition of middle blocker Ainsley Whitaker, who is back from an injury, will help BHS in 2021. Other returning players are defensive specialist Emma Falgner, outside hitter McKayla Lanham, setter Hope Blankenbeckler, Taylor Combs, Brooklyn Bockstiegel and Josie Ball.
Williamsburg has won six straight titles but Seeling isn’t selling his Ladycats short. “We will contend if our middles develop as expected and if our defense can progress from week to week,” he said.
Things will look a little different for the Falcons this season in the Lebanon Road gym.
Massie loses to graduation its top two players — Cadin Reveal and Kennedy Thompson, both first team all-league. In addition, Courtney Fisher graduated plus its long-time coach Stephanie Reveal has retired after a brilliant playing and coaching career at CMHS.
Emilie Fisher replaces Reveal. Fisher graduated from Massie in 2016 and coached the junior varsity Lady Falcons in 2020. She will be assisted this season by Brianna Machado (junior varsity), Tyler Greathouse (program assistant), Emily Miller (8th grade) and Brittany Haines (7th grade).
Massie was 10-13 last season, but return 11 letterwinners, including four starters. Returnees are Holly Young (district honorable mention), Natalee Hillman (SBAAC second team), Alaina Bayless, Kinsey Beam, Sam Bowman, Laila Davis, Cailyn Crain, Breckin Harner and Mack Peters.
“The returning players and upperclassmen have really stepped up and taken on the leadership role of the team,” coach Fisher said.
Fisher noted newcomers Maddie Phipps, Olivia Ward, Maddie Ward and Anna Jones can make an impact this season.
The new coach says her team has good “athleticism and commitment to getting better each day.” However, the team’s on-court communication, passing and confidence must improve.
If everything comes together, Fisher said her team can contend for the American Division title if “we go out each match, set and point and give everything we have. Forget about any mistakes that might happen and use our athleticism to our advantage and just go play volleyball.”
The East Clinton volleyball team was very good in the National Division last season.
That is very good against everybody but Williamsburg.
East Clinton was 16-4 overall and 10-2 in the league. Williamsburg won the National title with a 12-0 mark.
The Astros lost four matches but were extremely close in each set of all four. The second match against WHS had EC losing sets by scores of 20-25, 25-27, 26-28.
Sarah Sodini is back from the start to lead the varsity team. This will be her ninth season as head coach. She’ll be assisted by Bob Malone and Angie Collom at the high school and Sara Shaner and Lorrie Arnold at the junior high.
Libby Evanshine, who will be a junior this year, was first team all-league last season but fellow league honorees Katrina Bowman (first team), Jericka Boggs, Gracie Boggs and Gracie Evanshine have all graduated. There are six returning players in all.
Others on the team are senior Anna Malone, Kelsi Lilly, juniors Megan Tong, Trinity Bain, Savannah Tolle, Aubrie Simpson, Jozie Jones, Eryn Bowman, Lauren Stonewall, and sophomores Lauren Runyon and Jordan Collom.
“Kelsi has really taken on a senior leadership role,” Sodini said. “She’s become more positive and helpful. Megan is full of spirit and is an encouraging leader. Libby is always working hard and expects her teammates to rise to her standards. She makes them all better. Sodini said serve receive is a concern going in to the season but believes her squad can contend if “we continue to have positive attitudes, put the team first and work hard every day.”
She continued, “I like their love for volleyball and each other.” the coach added. “We have very positive, encouraging vibes in our gym and we support each other. The girls also work very hard. We’ve been training all summer. They’ve been working with personal trainer Lara Wilkinson and it’s made a huge difference in our conditioning. Those are two of the reasons we were successful last year and I expect more of the same this year.”
The Wilmington High School volleyball team lost a lot from last year’s 7-13 squad
The 2020 graduates were Harlie Bickett, Chailyn Johns, Emily Butcher, Emily Self, Vanessa Addison and Maura Drake.
Bickett was a star in multiple sports for WHS last season, earned first team league honors and is now playing softball for Lafayette College. She had 1,125 career digs and the coach said “filling her shoes will be no easy task.” Johns was honorable mention all-league last season but returns to the sideline as a coach.
Caroline Diels, a junior, was second team all-league and returns for the Hurricane. Diels led WHS in kills and was second in assists last season and the young squad “will really look to her experience and leadership for the upcoming season.”
Brynn Bryant was sidelined by an injury last season but has put in a ton of work to return. Also, Jena Rhoads, Banesa Morales and Sydney McCord earned limited varsity time last season but will have to step into bigger roles in 2021. In all there are five returning letterwinners.
“This summer we have really watched a couple of our younger players take the reins of this team,” Persinger said. “Both Caroline Diels and Brynn Bryant put in a lot of time working on their game outside of what we do as a program, and their efforts are surely paying off. Their knowledge of the game allows them to help their teammates in many capacities, making them natural leaders. For that reason, Caroline and Brynn, along with senior Jena Rhoads, will lead our team as captains this season.”
Persinger will be assisted at the high school by Jamie Bryant, Samantha Achtermann, Madison Flint and at the junior high by Tammy Martin and Chailyn Johns.
Newcomers to note will be Ashley Delph, Lisbon Smith and Lexus Reiley, all of whom have changed their games from a year ago and will add to the team’s offense, Persinger said.
Rounding out the roster are Lexi McKee-Cole, Kayla O’Dell, and Maliyah Burris.
“This is a fun group,” said Persinger, in her fourth year as head coach at WHS. “Their personalities certainly compliment each other, which I think will enhance their team chemistry as we get further into the season. They push each other, but in a good way. They compete, they battle, and they all have a common goal; they know what issues we struggled with last season and are committed to making this team the best it can be.
”This program has improved the past three years, however we have also hit a hump we are trying to get over. We know we can compete, we know we can take sets from teams. Now we have to learn how to battle until the end to come out on top of those close matches we dropped last season.”