The Southern Hills Athletic Conference Senior All-Star Game took place on Sunday, Oct. 8 at Manchester High School with many Adams County athletes showcasing their skills for a final time.
The two top coaches in the SHAC, Katie Ragan from North Adams and Mark Faust from Lynchburg-Clay, manned squads mixed with seniors from the 10-team league for the three set contest, that Ragan’s team won, two sets to one.
Members from area schools who participated on Ragan’s team were Morgan Johnson (Manchester), Summer Wilbur (Manchester), Cassidy Spires (Manchester), Allyson Campton (North Adams), Casey Mueller (West Union) and Hannah Riddle (West Union) while Kendall Kelley (Peebles), Kristen Grooms (West Union), Mikayla Akers (West Union), Kaitlin Toller (Peebles), Haley Rolfe (Peebles), Mikayla Smith (Manchester) and Kayla Wagoner (Manchester) suited up for Faust’s team.
Despite only making up four of the 10 conference schools, a large number of seniors meant plenty of playing time for the area girls, who had plently to say in the outcome of the friendly contest.
Summer Wilbur started off hot for Ragan’s team with multiple aces before the lone North Adams senior, Allyson Campton, served back-to-back-to-back aces of her own to jump out to a 13-6 lead. That healthy lead was kept up throughout the first set and Ragan’s team eventually took the 25-13 lead.
Kristen Grooms served up an early ace and Kaitlin Toller sent home a kill as Faust’s team took a slim 12-10 lead in set number two. Ragan’s squad tied the game at 12 but serves from Haley Rolfe and Kendall Kelley from Peebles extended the lead to 18-15 before serving-specialist McKayla Smith came in and dominated, serving six times in a row to push the lead to 24-15 before her squad would even the game a few plays later, taking the second set 25-16.
The competitive side in Ragan’s squad took hold in the third set as Campton served up more aces early on while Cassidy Spires killed two midway through the set to make it 12-8. Ragan’s team didn’t let up from there as Summer Wilbur served up an ace of her own before Campton ended the game on two more aces to take the third set 25-14.
The mixture of competition and fun was clearly on display as both teams played to win in a more relaxed atmosphere than a regular-season setting.
“I thought it was really more fun,” Smith said. “Like when I messed up I just thought, ‘We’re just supposed to be having fun with it,’ but then there’s that part of you that’s used to always wanting to win and so we wanted to win and be competitive but also have fun with it.”
Teams had a short learning curve during the three-set game communicating with new teammates, sometimes playing out of position, posing a new challenge on top of playing against some of the best players in the league on the other side of the net.
“You’re just so used to your team and how you run things,” Toller said. “How you run plays and how you celebrate after plays and stuff. It’s probably more about fun since it’s our senior year though.”
One of the more fierce competitors in the SHAC, Morgan Johnson, said the teams tried to win but not at all costs because of the nature of the game.
“It’s a lot more relaxed and more fun I think,” Johnson said. “Winning is fun so we tried winning but when you start getting behind that’s where the competitive nature comes in.”
For most of the athletes, they’ve only competed against girls from other schools and many found the experience of being able to play with their competition, instead of against them, a positive one.
“We went against each other our entire lives and now we’re playing with each other which I thought was pretty awesome,” Smith said.
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.