Christchurch School Volleyball
by Coach Karen Byrd
Last year’s Christchurch volleyball team finished first in the VCC conference and captured the conference tournament trophy after a 20-3 season finish. After leaving the VCC conference and playing Independent this year, the level of competition has been elevated. “Nothing comes easy for the Lady Seahorses, but this group will be ready to compete. We will take this season one match at a time,” says Head Coach Karen Bryd.
There is only one remaining senior on the squad this fall, but Coach Byrd is anything but downbeat on the beginning of her seventh season at Christchurch.
“Our juniors are preparing mentally and physically to take this program forward,” Byrd says. “The leadership and steadiness they are bringing to the court will make a huge difference down the stretch. The level of play in our gym right now is significantly higher than it was at this time a year ago. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s a solid starting point.”
Byrd expects to field a more balanced attack this fall, in great part because junior Lilah Beebe, Mathews, and sophomore Joy Leonard, North Carolina, give Byrd a matching set of talented blockers in the middle of the floor. Beebe is in her second year varsity and is improving every match. She averages 2 blocks per match and is the second leading scorer on the team. Leonard is a great addition to the squad and is becoming a force at the net. She has great energy and when she connects, the ball is on the floor before a defender has a chance to move. I see them both finishing strong this season and becoming key contributors to the offense of this team.
A more balanced attack should translate this season into more quality swings for senior and co-captain, Kate Corson, Gloucester. Last year Corson led the conference with 378 kills, was named VCC Player of the Year as well as All State 1st Team. Corson is a tremendous athlete and talented outside attacker as well as a defensive specialist leading the team in kills and passing. Corson trains hard and is in outstanding shape, able to navigate around the court well. She has a strong arm swing and is able to hit from any area of the court. Corson has already registered several double doubles tallying an average of 12 kills per match. Last week, Corson led the seahorses to a 3-2 victory over conference leader Tidewater Academy with 23 kills.
Kedron Walsh, Mathews, a junior, 5-foot-6 right-side hitter/setter, made her biggest contributions last season on defense and serving, averaging nearly four digs per game, and at the service line, where she was No. 2 on the team in kills and aces. This year Walsh, a co-captain is a great leader on the court as well as a true utility player who can play any position. Walsh is one of our toughest athletes and competitors, a solid passer as well as a smart hitter. “She brings a lot of intangible pieces to the team that makes it better. We like to have her on the floor for a lot of reasons.”
Anna Shaw, Deltaville, a junior Libero, is also a utility player and has seen time as a right side attacker as well as a defense specialist. She has really developed as a player and is gaining more confidence every match. Shaw is a strong athlete and is focused on contributing to her team’s success. “Anna’s defense and ball-control skills will translate into a lot more opportunities for our offense,” Byrd says. “We’re going to have a lot more balance with her in the back row.”
Brook Davis, Mathews, junior defensive specialist experiences her first time on the varsity squad and is learning the ropes and the tempo of the game. Brook is focused in practice and is making nice strides to prepare for the fast pace of the varsity game. Her defense is improving and she is getting solid passes to the setter to help our defense stay in system. Her strive for improvement will transfer to more time on the court as she moves forward with the sport. She is putting all her focus into developing her skills and is responding very well.”
Anna Moore, Saluda, a sophomore setter is one of our fiercest competitors and is always ready to go,” Byrd says. “She wants to be on the floor for every minute of every match, and it’s hard getting her off the floor because of her all-around skills. “Anna’s court vision is excellent, she sees holes in the defense, and her volleyball IQ is extremely high for an athlete her age,” Byrd says. “She brings great athleticism to the floor,” Byrd says. At the same time, she adds, Moore is making “nice strides in terms of her confidence and ability to run the team.”
Between Moore and Walsh in the setter position, it helps us every day in practice, and once matches start, it gives options for different situations.”
Two newcomers to the squad are freshman Trisha Davie, Maryland and Ann Gardner Eubank, Gloucester, playing outside hitter and defensive specialist. “Trisha is long and plays taller than her height,” Byrd says. “We’ve been working on her development as an outside, and she continues to improve every match.” AnnGardner is highly motivated and eager to defend the ball at any cause. “Both Davie and Eubank continue to work on becoming more consistent and learning how to run the floor. They have a lot to learn in terms of strategy and decision-making at a higher level. Both are up to the task, though, and we see improvements daily. The best is still ahead for both of them.”
Christchurch is currently ranked 5th in the state with a record of 10-3 after securing a three set sweep over St. Margaret’s on Friday night. With three contests this week we hope to improve our record and standings on the road to states.