Volleyball Capsules: A Quick Look at Area Volleyball Teams

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

City High

Coach: Tricia Carty (1st season)

Last season: 16-17

Returning starters: Kelsey Law, Jr., OH; Ellie Evans, Sr., OH; Mackenzie Murphy, Sr., MB; Mia Loughran, Jr., MB; Lindsey Bolton, Jr., S; Cecelia Aldrich-Ingram, Jr., RS; Brooke Bormann, Jr., L.

Other returning letterwinners: Eryn Daily, Sr., DS; Kate Swenning, Sr., DS.

Headliner: A four-year starter, Ellie Evans ranked third on the team with 169 kills and led the Little Hawks with 171 digs a year ago.

Keep an eye on: Senior Mackenzie Murphy earned first-team all-MVC divisional honors a year ago after hammering 173 kills and leading City High with 49 ace serves.

Ready for a breakthrough: Kelsey Law showed her potential last season as a sophomore with a  team-leading 224 kills and the 5-foot-11 outside hitter could be in for an even bigger season this fall.  

Circle the date: August 21 vs. West High. The annual Battle for the Spike is a Class 5A top-10 showdown as preseason No. 7 City High hosts No. 10 West High.

Biggest question: How do the Little Hawks handle the coaching change? Long-time assistant Tricia Carty was named interim coach in July replacing Craig Pitcher who will sit out this season.

West High

Coach: Scott Sanders (2nd season, 22-16)

Assistant coaches: Keely Arnold, PJ Jaramillo

Last season: 22-16

Returning starters: Claire Overton, Sr., MH; Cailyn Morgan, Sr., OH; Rylee Fay, Jr., S

Other returning letterwinners: Emily Cray, Sr., MH; Ellie Kouba, Sr., MH; Grace Fleckenstein, Sr., DS/L; Morgan Hawkins, Sr., DS/L; Haley Gallagher, Sr., OH/DS.

Newcomers to watch: Natalie Young, Jr., OH/MH; Katherine Kouba, Fr., DS/OH; Ryann Culver, Soph., OH; Sanmati Thangavel, Jr., DS/L

Headliner: Senior Cailyn Morgan is a Division I basketball recruit, committed to play at Northern Iowa but is a force on the volleyball court as well as evidence by her 172 kills and 22 blocks a year ago.

Keep an eye on: An injury slowed setter Rylee Fay early last season but she returned to lead West High with 460 assists and 38 ace serves.

Ready for a breakthrough: Senior Claire Overton led West High with 73 blocks a year ago and ranked third on the team with 142 kills but should see that number soar with more swings.  

Circle the date: September 8 West High tournament. West High welcomes a strong field to its own home tournament with eight of the 12 teams appearing in the preseason rankings including five teams that open the year ranked in the top seven.

Biggest question: How steps up as the go-to hitter? All-stater Colby Greene and her team-leading 300 kills are off to Southeast Missouri State and West High needs someone to step into her role as go-to hitter. The Women of Troy have capable options but will need some to step forward.

Liberty High

Coach: Randy Dolson (2nd season, 13-20)

Assistant coaches: Allie Hutcheson, Peggy Dolson

Last season: 13-20

Returning starters: LeeAnn Potter, Jr., OH; Olivia Slattery, Soph., MB/OH; Kaylee Berns, Jr., DS/L; Piper Koski, Jr., DS/L; Addie Schmierer, Soph., DS/L; Hailey Hested, Soph., S.

Other returning letterwinners: Grace Crimmins, Jr., S; Madian Elola, Jr., OH/MB; Lauren Roman, Soph., MB; Marit McCaffery, Soph., OH

Newcomers to watch: Gabbie Schroeder, Fr., DS/L; Sydney Woods, Fr., OH; Sam Harvey, Fr., OH; Jordyn Stammeyer, Jr. OH; Sushma Santhana, Jr., DS.

Headliner: A 5-foot-9 junior LeeAnn Potter established herself as a force last season leading the Lightning with 307 kills and 345 digs.

Keep an eye on: Perhaps no player was more important to Liberty High during its debut season than junior Piper Koski who played outside hitter, libero and setter over the course of the year. Koski is expected to stick to defensive specialist or libero duties this year after rolling up 221 digs and 229 assists a year ago.

Ready for a breakthrough: Olivia Slattery, a mobile 6-foot-0 sophomore led Liberty High in ace serves (38) and was second in blocks (28) and third in kills (126) a year ago.

Circle the date: August 28 at West High. Liberty High volleyball gets its first crack against a cross-town rival in a Mississippi Valley Conference match when it travels to West High.

Biggest question: How will the Lightning handle the rugged Mississippi Valley Conference schedule? Eight MVC teams open the season ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A and 5A and six of those teams appear on the Liberty schedule including 4A top-ranked Dubuque Wahlert and No. 3 Cedar Rapids Xavier.

Solon

Coach: Sarah Ferin (3rd season, 23-48)

Last season: 15-21

Returning starters: Rachael Nelson, Sr., S; Abby Smith, Sr., OH; Taylor Moore, Sr., L; Kate Benzing, Sr., MH

Other returning letterwinners: Katie Yi, Jr., MH; Lauren Schrock, Soph., OH.

Headliner: Senior setter Rachael Nelson is the engine that makes the Spartans go ranking third on the team in kills (148) and blocks (42), fourth in ace serves (23) and digs (211) to go with a team-high 487 assists.

Keep an eye on: Abby Smith will look to end her career with a strong senior season after ranking fourth on the team with 129 kills on her way to honorable mention all-WAMAC honors last season.

Ready for a breakthrough: Lauren Schrock ranked second on the team with 148 kills a year ago as a freshman and the 6-foot-0 middle should improve on those numbers this season.

Circle the date: August 23 at Center Point-Urbana quad. The Spartans don’t have to wait long to gauge where they stand in the WAMAC opening the season with a quad that features 3A No. 6 CPU, 4A No. 7 Clear Creek Amana and 2A No. 12 Mount Vernon.

Biggest question: Is this the year the Spartans get over the hump? Solon won 33 matches three consecutive seasons from 2013 to 2015. Over the next three seasons Solon won 33 matches combined. The Spartans appear poised to take a big step forward this fall with four starters returning from a 15-win team.

Clear Creek Amana

Coach: Jackie Clubb (5th season, 93-65)

Last season: 23-20

Returning starters: Shauntina Williams, Sr., OH; Jordan Neely, Sr., L; Cheyaenne Bunch, Jr., S; Hailey Pollock, Soph., MB; Lauren Riggle, Soph., OH.

Other returning letterwinners: Claire Schwarting, Sr., RS; Amelia Pereira, Sr., RS; Alexi Kimm, Sr., S; Anna Schwarting, Jr., OH/DS; Meagan Harvey, Jr., RS.

Newcomers to watch: Grace Stewart, Jr.; Alexa Schwartz, Jr.; Madison George, Jr.

Headliner: Senior Shauntina Williams is one of the best in the WAMAC and was a first-team all-West Division pick a year ago after leading the Clippers with 353 kills and 58 blocks.

Keep an eye on: Senior libero Jordan Neely ranked second in Class 4A with 592 digs a year ago on her way to earning second-team all-WAMAC West Division honors.

Ready for a breakthrough: Hailey Pollock flashed her potential last season as the 6-foot-2 middle posted 131 kills and ranked second on the team with 52 blocks.

Circle the date: October 8 WAMAC Pool Play at Clear Creek Amana. The Clippers will have home court on the opening night of the conference tournament as they serve as host for the pool play portion of the WAMAC tournament.

Biggest question: How far can the Clippers go this season? It appears to be that type of season for CCA where the question becomes just how good can this group be. Clear Creek Amana opens the season ranked No. 7 in Class 4A after returning virtually all its production from last season’s 23-win squad.

West Branch

Coach: John Walsh (3rd season, 31-39)

Assistant Coaches: Mark Begey, Katie Mathis

Last season: 10-23

Returning starters: Abbey Fryauf, Sr., OH; Courtney Jarrett, Sr., L; Riley Vaughan, Sr., S; Kaiya Luneckas, Jr., MH; Mackenzie Heise, Jr., RH.

Newcomers to watch: Nicki Henson, Soph., S; Lexi Klinkkammer, Fr., OH; Delaynie Luneckas, Fr., RH.

Headliner: South Dakota State commit Abbey Fryauf is one of the best in the RVC. The 6-foot-2 outside hitter had a team-high 289 kills a year ago and ranked second on the team with 45 kills.

Keep an eye on: Senior setter Riley Vaughan led West Branch with 325 assists and 35 ace serves last season.

Ready for a breakthrough: Kaiya Luneckas had a strong sophomore season with 173 kills and a team-high 52 blocks but will look to take her production up a notch this fall.

Circle the date: September 18 at Regina. The annual matchup of River Valley Conference rivals shifts to Iowa City.

Biggest question: How many kills can Fryauf collect in her final prep season? All signs point to a huge senior season for the 6-foot-2 Fryauf. A big finale from Fryauf could be a key in helping West Branch rebound from a 10-win season from a year ago.