North Adams also hoping to continue SHAC domination –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
For Coach Katie Ragan and the North Adams Lady Devils varsity volleyball squad, the beginning of the 2017 season looks a whole lot like the beginning of previous seasons. The Lady Devils are coming off an impressive 20-4 campaign last season, going unbeaten in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference for the fourth consecutive year, but again falling short when they advanced to district tournament play and were swept in three sets by Southeastern Ross.
The SHAC streak put together by the Lady Devils is unprecedented in conference history, with the North Adams girls taking 52 consecutive conference matches heading into 2017. That translates into the six seniors on this year’s squad never losing a match in conference play to this point in their careers.
“We have been very successful in the SHAC in recent years,” says Coach Ragan. “I just wish we could translate some of that success into district play.”
The first item on Coach Ragan’s agenda for 2017 is to figure out a way to replace the two talented seniors that she lost to graduation, Maddie Toole and Madison Jenkins.
“Both of those girls were four-year varsity starters,” said Ragan. “Both made All-SHAC and All-District more than once. Maddie had over 1,000 digs in her career and Madison was the Co-Player of the Year in the SHAC last year. They both will be missed and hard to replace.”
The replacement process will start with an experienced starting lineup for the Lady Devils, consisting of six seniors- Charlee Louden, Avery Harper, Sydney Kendall, Abby Campton, Brooklyn Stout, and Adison Wright, all of whom have different roles and all of whom fill them well. Louden and Harper are in their fourth year on the varsity squad, with Kendall and Campton both in their third years.
“I expect the seniors to be leaders,” says Ragan. “I expect them to lead by example with their play.”
“Our main hitters will be Louden and Harper. Charlee has been one of our main hitters for the past two years and Avery’s stats haven’t been far behind. Sydney will be returning as our setter and Adison will be filling the role of libero. Abby and Brooklyn were our two best servers last year and I expect that to continue.”
Fans will also see the future of the North Adams varsity in 2017 as Coach Ragan expects a pair of freshmen, Wylie Shipley and Delaney Harper to contribute off the bench.”
“Our biggest strength this year will obviously be our experience,” continued the North Adams coach. “Our weakness is still our passing abilities, but we are working on that. To be successful, we will have to get better at passing and work to include the freshmen in our offense and defense.”
According to Ragan, the team does not talk a whole lot about individual goals, preferring to focus on team accomplishments.
“These girls are the most successful players that I have had the privilege of coaching,” says Ragan. “My seniors have not lost a conference match, they have won three consecutive sectionals, and over 20 matches for the last three seasons.”
“As far as some individual goals, Abby Campton already has the school record for most service aces in a season and the most points served in one season, so she will just add to both of those. Sydney Kendall has a good chance at breaking the school record for most career assists and a chance to get over 2,000 career assists if we play enough matches.”
“But as a team, we want to win another gold ball and win the district tournament.”
The Lady Devils open their regular season on Aug. 22 at Fayetteville in SHAC action. The 2017 schedule will include non-conference matches with Huntington Ross, Portsmouth West, Waverly, Portsmouth Notre Dame, Southeastern Ross, Eastern Pike, Wheelersburg, Portsmouth City, and Northwest.
A complete schedule can be found on the school’s website.