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Lady Chargers have good mix of veterans, youth

The Middlesex High varsity volleyball team opened its season against visiting Rappahannock on Tuesday. Above, defensive specialist Lauren Bleeker bumps as Angel Abbott (18) and Chelsea Hall (right) are poised to assist. (Photos by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi

Ten players return to the Middlesex High varsity volleyball team, including 3 seniors and 5 juniors.

“I see a great group of girls,” said head coach Jennifer Harrow. “We have some powerful hitters and servers. We are already starting the season with more communication than we have had in the past.”

During the Lady Chargers’ scrimmage win at Washington & Lee on August 22, Harrow saw her girls go from confusion to pulling themselves together and playing two great games at the end to seize the win. “We never gave up, and I hope it shows them that we do have what it takes. Nothing is going to be given to us this year. It’s going to be hard work every day through practice and games, but I have no doubt that we can be at the top this year.”

Middlesex won the first game 26-24, but surrendered the next two games 25-19 and 25-17. That forced a do-or-die situation for the final two games, which the Lady Chargers won 25-18 and 15-10.

Returning seniors include outside hitter Brittin Payne for her fourth year on varsity. “Her hit has really improved. It’s become more powerful and she is able to run a faster attack and surprise the other team,” said Harrow.

Payne is also a leader on the court. “There are times in the game that the girls get down, and Brittin can bring an intensity that gets them motivated and keeps them going!” said Harrow.

Outside hitter Sarah Ann Goodrich is back for her third year on varsity. “Sarah Ann has a very powerful hit and serve,” said Harrow. “She takes playing very seriously and I can tell that she wants to improve and she wants to win. There is a lot of heart and desire in this girl.”

Madison Thomas, who returns for her second year with the varsity, is a middle hitter. “She has quick feet and can run some fast plays from the middle, which is something we haven’t been able to do much of in the past,” said Harrow. “She also brings a powerful serve.”

Five juniors return, including defensive specialist Angel Abbott at libero. “Angel is a hard worker,” said Harrow. “She has a true passion for the game and wants to do well and improve. She moves well and has a great pass.”

Morgan Blake, an outside hitter, “has improved and she has become a lot more consistent,” said Harrow. “Her focus has improved as well. She also brings a strong serve and passing.”

Lauren Bleeker, a libero and defensive specialist, “also works hard and she is a great communicator on the court,” said Harrow. “She has become very confident and it shows with her great passing.”

Chelsea Hall “is a versatile player,” said Harrow. “At this point, her focus is as a setter. She also does well as an outside hitter and I’ve used her in the middle. She has a nice vertical and powerful swing.”

Shelby Lewter, a middle hitter, “brings a strong serve and powerful arm for hitting,” said Harrow. “We are working on transitioning to bring more vertical and an even stronger hit.”

Erika Britton and Beth Eanes are returning sophomores.

“Erika sets very well,” Harrow said. “We are working on communication and moving our feet. With her hard work and dedication, she has the opportunity to make an assist record at the school. Her hitting is coming around and she has a consistent serve.”

Beth Eanes “is a great communicator and motivator of the team,” said Harrow. “She consistently cheers on the team on and off the court. She is another versatile player. Her hitting consistency has improved. We are working not only her setting, but also her outside and middle hitting.”

New Players
After a year layoff due to injury, junior Gabby Hopkins is back as a middle hitter. Hopkins played JV volleyball her freshman year and had to take off last year due to an injury. “She brings some height to the team and a strong hit,” said Harrow.

Sophomore Austen-Taylor Dozier “is helping to round out our setting department with nice, strong sets,” said Harrow. “We are working on court movement and ball placement.”

Freshman Rachael Howard is another versatile player. “She is willing to work at whatever position I need her. She is a hard worker and I see the determination to be the best, which is something every athlete should have. She picks up skills quickly and works to master them, and she has a strong spike.”

Junior Katarina Kruse will be bookkeeper.

The JV and varsity volleyball teams hosted Rappahannock on Tuesday, August 27, and will travel to Northumberland on Thursday, August 29 for a non-district match.

posted 08.28.2013

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