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Timesland teams may face new opponents in redrawn conferences, but expect familiar outcomes.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Auburn’s Keri Musick and Madison Shumaker stretch to block a spike during the Division 1 State Championship.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Hidden Valley’s Madison Morris, a 6-foot-2 middle, blasted 223 kills and staged 63 blocks for the Titans in her junior season.
The Roanoke Times | File
Roanoke Catholic head volleyball coach Aaron King has led the Celtics to the VIS state championship the past two seasons. Does Roanoke Catholic have what it takes to win a third straight crown? That question could be answered early.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Cave Spring returns 6-foot-1 Piper Roe on the front line.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Two state champions will try to defend.
One state runner-up will try to reach that final lofty perch.
Many have high hopes.
All public school programs hope to have new alignments and postseason formats figured out before too long.
Volleyball season will soon be under way . Here are five questions at the outset:
Does two-time defending VIS Division III champ Roanoke Catholic have what it takes to repeat?
Coach Aaron King's team loses a tremendous amount of graduated firepower in the school's all-time kills leader, Mairin Guilfoyle, (1,011) and assists queen Ava Perez (2,353). Plenty of talent returns, though.
Last year Roanoke Catholic played a difficult regular season and excelled most nights. During the playoffs, they never lost a game. There was a lot of playing time to go around.
A glimpse of what this season could look like came in the championship match victory over Hampton Christian.
Allison George, now a junior middle blocker and opposite, excelled in the clutch with five kills and two service aces. Alexandra Arnold and Danielle Dorman had big moments in the title match as well. George, junior outside hitter, middle blocker Arnold, and senior middle blocker Dorman are all back this year. Other veterans include Ashley Deer, Anne Deer, Zoe Doubles, and Nat LeDonne. Another senior, Samantha Edge, is a transfer from Patrick Henry, a 2012 Group AAA quarterfinalist.
The Celtics ought to be in the hunt for another title.
What are Auburn's prospects to repeat its Division 1 championship?
Similarly to Catholic, the Eagles lose a huge part of their team in graduated 2012 Timesland player of the year Jordan Watson, the all-time VHSL kills leader, and fellow graduates Hannah Paredes, Laren Altizer, and Breanna Nichols.
No worries. Auburn will still pack a punch. Hitters Brooke Bostwick and Madison Shumaker were impact players going down the stretch last year. Bostwick is one of the top all-around athletes in Timesland and is just coming into her own as a volleyball player in her senior season. Shumaker is an unflappable junior who was cool and effective under pressure at the state tournament in Richmond last year.
Additionally, senior front line player Keri Musick is coming off a breakthrough campaign.
"They're hungry to do it again," Eagles coach Sherry Millirons said.
Will Hidden Valley break through after coming ever so close during a 2012 Group AA state runner-up campaign?
The Titans will miss a stellar departed senior class that included All Timesland picks Caroline Boone and Jenny Clarke. However, Hidden Valley will build around a core of talented players. Madison Morris, a 6-foot-2 middle, is coming off a terrific junior season in which she blasted 223 kills and staged 63 blocks. She'll be a matchup problem for anybody. Hannah Podeschi, another senior, is poised to build on a year in which she had 898 assists and 109 kills. Libero Skylar Kendrick will be the cornerstone of Hidden Valley's stout defense. She had 227 digs last year.
Newcomers will be a factor, too. Freshman phenom Drew Freeland is coming off a stress fracture and is expected to be at full capacity shortly. She and Podeschi have the kind of all-around skills that prompted Titans coach Carla Poff to go to a two-setter offense so both players can deploy to the net when needed.
If this summer's preseason is an indication, Poff's Titans ought to be rolling again in newly-configured 3A West.
Who else will have an impact on Timesland volleyball?
Cave Spring is never going to be far from the top of 3A West contenders. Olivia Sass is an experienced field general at setter. Piper Roe, at 6-1 the tallest player the Knights have had since Tamalyn Tanis has been coach, and 5-10 Cait Flippen are a formidable pair of sophomores on the front line. Tessa Klimaitis, Charity Klimaitis, and Shannon Holsinger are all just coming into their own. Once the Knights find some offensive consistency, they'll be a handful as usual.
Patrick Henry is coming off a terrific season with plenty to build on. Timesland female athlete of the year Carolina Brailsford and explosive hitter Sarah Miller will be missed, but other skilled players are on the way to making their own names. Outside Abby Wolpert, middle Bradley Smith, and setter Olivia Pullen all started as freshmen last year.
"As much as they played, I think they're really more like juniors now," Patriots coach Patricia Sheedy said.
Giles and James River will each be forces in D2. The Spartans were state semifinalist last year, their best finish ever. Alex Hawks is one of the strongest players in Timesland and she's back to lead an able cast. The Spartans will build on the confidence they generated last year.
James River was a quarterfinalist last year under a new coach, Dave McGee, who led Bath County to the 2011 D1 crown. A year of experience under the system he installed will make a big difference for the Knights. Players to watch include hitter Alex Wolfe, hitter Taylor Hodges, setter McKenzie Talbott, hitter Sami McGee, blocker Jamie Eastman, and hitter Meagan Long.
Northside has one of the top players in the area in Aleah Keaton, second team All Timeland as a freshman. The Vikings will be heard from in D3.
Galax lost only three seniors off a 21-win team that advanced to the Division 1 semifinals. The Maroon Tide will challenge Auburn for dominance on this side of the state again. They first see each other Sept. 12.
What's the makeup of the new conference system that encompasses Timesland's teams?
There will be plenty of formal introductions necessary as the only two 6A schools in Timesland - Patrick Henry and Franklin County - join new Conference 3. Other conference members include Varina, Thomas Dale, Cosby, and James River-Midlothian - all from the Richmond area.
William Fleming, Salem, Pulaski County, Jefferson Forest, Carroll County, and Bassett will all be aligned in 4A North Conference 24. The rest of the membership is filled out by E.C. Glass and George Washington. Like Salem, Fleming, and Pulaski County, Glass and GW were once members of the old Group AAA.
Hidden Valley, Cave Spring, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Abingdon, and Patrick County form the membership of 3A West Conference 32. The entirely Timesland makeup of Conference 31 includes Northside, Lord Botetourt, William Byrd, Staunton River, Rockbridge County, Alleghany, and Magna Vista.
In 2A West, Conference 38 is all Timesland: James River, Floyd County, Giles, Glenvar, and Martinsville. Conference 39 includes Marion and Grayson County along with Richlands, Tazewell, Graham, and Grundy. Everybody in 39 but Grayson County was at some point AA back in the day.
Conference 45 in 1A West is Bath County, Bland County, Covington, Craig County, Eastern Montgomery, Radford, and Narrows. Conference 46 is Chilhowie, Rural Retreat, George Wythe, Fort Chiswell, and Galax along with PH-Glade Spring.
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