> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Coach John McEwen expects the Generals (6-21 in 2012) to improve even more this season with 10 returning letterwinners. Senior middle blocker Ali Sparkman, who was named to both the News and Tribune All-Area and All-Mid-Southern Conference teams last season, will lead Clarksville.
Other key returnees are junior libero Kayla Wallace and sophomore setter Cheyenne Bledsoe. The three other seniors on the squad are outside hitter Kristen McNew, middle blocker and outside hitter Abby Hurtgen and setter Hannah Elder. The Generals also should get a boost from junior defensive specialist Danielle Pace, who transferred from Borden.
“The future is bright for Clarksville volleyball,” McEwen said. “With six wins last year after previous back-to-back winless seasons, the program should easily double last season’s win total with the goal of the program’s first winning season in a long time. We went from a program with no club volleyball players to a program with nine club players this past club season, including the entire freshman class.”
The Musketeers (14-16 in 2012) must replace hitters Krista Roberts and Kayla Beach along with two key servers and a back-row player.
Senior outside and middle hitter Brooke Rodewig is expected to pick up the slack for Roberts and Beach. Senior setter Whitney Sacksteder will run the Eastern offense, while senior Dakota Reed and sophomore Laken Heavner will provide tough defense in the back row. Another player expected to contribute to the Musketeers is sophomore Destinee Mattix.
“Many players made improvements through club volleyball to compete at the varsity level,” Musketeers’ coach Lisa Roberts said. “Our weaknesses would be that we are young and lack varsity experience in some areas. Our goals are to make every point matter, cover the floor and know all positions.”
With several returning players back from last year’s 24-11 squad, the Highlanders should be strong again and contend for the Hoosier Hills Conference and Class 4A sectional championships.
Floyd Central’s outside and middle hitters who are back are seniors Sydney Engle and Tierney Flaherty, juniors Lauren Koopman and Hannah Joly and sophomore Gwyn Jones. Junior Remington Bowman returns as the Highlanders’ setter, and senior defensive specialists Riley Kaiser and Brooke Hinton should provide some solid play in the back row.
Floyd Central will play in tough tournaments this year at New Castle and Carmel. The New Castle tournament will be very challenging with a field that includes Louisville Assumption, Muncie Central, Belmont, Penn, Avon and the host Trojans.
“This year we should have a very competitive team that has a lot of talent,” Floyd Central coach Bart Powell said. “Our schedule is extremely tough, which will make us better come tournament time.”