Young MHS volleyball team shows potential
|Sophomore Chelsi Blake is a strong outside hitter that is able to adjust to sets and still get powerful hits for the MHS varsity volleyball team. Above, Lancaster gets a taste of Blake’s hitting in last week’s scrimmage.|
by Tom Chillemi
The Middlesex High varsity volleyball team has only one senior and no five-year players.
However, coach Jennifer Harrow is optimistic about the Lady Chargers as they head into their season opener on Tuesday, August 25, at Essex. “They have the right attitude and work ethic to go a long way this year,” said Harrow. “I am very excited about this season and so are the girls. We hosted a camp at the high school this summer and we also attended a team camp this summer.”
Ten of the 14 girls attended the team camp. “I feel that it was a great success,” said Harrow. “The girls got a head start on working together as a team and therefore a beginning bond that has only gotten stronger.
“I feel that, unlike years in the past, these girls are a team, not separate groups,” continued Harrow. “That will go a long way toward them becoming successful this year.”
Harrow said the Lady Chargers are “very strong” offensively. “We are working every day to become just as strong defensively.”
The Lady Chargers won all three scrimmage games at Lancaster last week. They will scrimmage Peninsula Catholic at home tonight, Thursday, August 20.
The Lady Chargers are at W&L on Thursday, August 27. Their first home match is Tuesday, September 1, against Rappahannock.
The JV matches are at 6 p.m. and the varsity plays at 7:30 p.m.
Returning players include captain Maggie Hall, the only senior. “She is a true leader on and off the court,” said Harrow. “She talks to the players to help them when they get frustrated and encourages them to work harder, and congratulates success. Maggie is a strong passer and will be one of my outside hitters.”
Five juniors return from last year’s team that finished second to Mathews in the Tidewater District.
Caroline Davis is one of the Lady Chargers’ versatile players. “It’s great to have someone that can do more than one job,” said Harrow. “In the past, she has mainly been a setter. Her hitting has become a lot stronger, so she will be considered for an outside position.”
Davis will also be considered for the position of libero or defensive specialist.
Hayley Guess has come a long way with her hitting in the middle, Harrow said. “She is a lot stronger and more consistent. Her blocking has also become stronger.”
Kelsey Hainley is a setter. “She is strong with her sets and can get them out to where we need them,” said Harrow. “She also has a powerful serve.”
Chelsea Lewter has continued to improve and become aggressive as a passer and hitter from the back row, said Harrow. “She became our first libero last year and will continue to pursue that position. I may also consider her for an outside hitter.”
Raquel Pierce “is our team spirit,” said Harrow. “She is loud and encouraging whether she is playing or on the sidelines. She really helps to pump up the team. Her hitting has improved dramatically with consistency this year. She is learning better how to contain her energy to play smart and explode during her hits.”
Returning sophomores include Chelsi Blake and Megan Payne.
“Chelsi is a strong outside hitter who can make any set look great since she is able to adjust to the sets and still get a powerful hit,” Harrow said. “Chelsi also contributes a strong serve that’s hard to read.”
Megan Payne worked as a middle hitter last season, but is out at this time recuperating from shoulder surgery.
Six players are new to the varsity team. Four are juniors.
Ashley Lane brings height to the team. “Although she enjoys passing more than hitting, I am trying to change that mentality,” said Harrow. “I will be training her as another middle hitter for our team.” She also brings a lot of power to the service line.
Jillien Puster was with the team two years ago and moved away, but has returned to MHS. “I’m glad she has returned,” Harrow said. “She filled a much needed position as a setter. Jillien contributes a lot to both our offense and defense. She consistently hits strong and is in the process of perfecting her powerful jump serve. I’m also excited about how strong she is defensively. Just when you think the play is over, she is there to keep the ball in play. This also makes the rest of the team want to work harder.”
Allyson Sharpe is a hard worker and is working daily to become a stronger hitter and passer, said Harrow. Allyson’s main position is as an outside hitter.
Ashley Williams is working on her hitting. “Once we get her to be more consistent, she could be a real asset as a right side hitter. She has a quick powerful arm. Her serve is also strong.”
Sophomores include Ivy Perkins and Joey Stinchcomb.
“Ivy is another of our versatile players,” Harrow said. “She reads the ball well and moves quickly, which is great for both a setter and defensive specialist. Her hitting has also gotten stronger.”
Joey Stinchcomb has only one year under her belt and not a lot of playing time last year. “Joey amazes me with how well she tracks and blocks the ball from the middle,” Harrow said. “We are still working on her hitting, but it has been improving daily.” However, this week Stinchcomb suffered a fracture in her foot and will be out temporarily.
The team camp is expensive and the varsity Lady Chargers are raising funds to go again next summer. They are selling short and long-sleeve Middlesex Charger shirts. There are three designs and three colors. Short-sleeve shirts are $10 and long-sleeves are $14. Contact Coach Harrow at MHS at 758-2132 for more information.