Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – When long-time City High assistant coach Tricia Carty was named the Little Hawks’ interim coach in July she was left without an assistant coach of her own for several weeks.
As the season began with a light City High coach staff Carty needed to find leadership from another spot.
Carty has found exactly that in senior Ellie Evans.
“I’m so proud of her,” Carty said of Evans. “We’ve had her for four years and I challenged her to really get out of her comfort zone and assert more of a leadership role and she is sort of embracing that and challenging herself.”
A four-year varsity contributor and three-year starter Evans knows the City High program in and out.
That experience has been key in helping Evans transition into a leadership role for Class 5A No. 13 City High (4-4).
“I definitely think that it helps to have experience,” Evans said. “Just to have another body on the court besides Tricia that knows what is going on is helpful.”
Experience has also helped Evans take her on-court game to a new level.
Eight matches into the season the 5-foot-11 Evans is one kill away from matching her career-high total of 169 from a year ago.
Evans had 25 kills in five matches over the weekend as City High went 3-2 at its own Little Hawk Volleyball tournament.
She is averaging 2.91 kills per set this season, up nearly a full kill from last season.
“She is growing into that role as a go-to player,” Carty said. “Now everyone else is going to keep following that example because she has worked extremely hard and has tried all the things that we’ve asked her to do tweaking technique and skill and it’s paying off and I’m really glad to see it.”
In matches outside of tournament settings (with sets played to 25) Evans is averaging better than four kills per set.
She had 12 in a season-opening loss to West High and a career-high 18 in a win over 5A No. 15 Johnston.
Evans followed with a team-high 15 kills in a three-set loss to 4A second-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier.
“I think it was just connecting with our setters,” Evans said. “I know we struggled with that quite a bit last year but having worked with each other last year and we spent some time together working outside of practice so connecting better this year has helped a lot.”
While Evans may be on pace to crush her career kill numbers her biggest improvement has come elsewhere on the court.
Evans had 74 digs in her first two varsity seasons combined and collected 186 last season.
This year Evans has a team-high 66 digs, averaging 2.9 per set.
“She has spent a ton of time working on defense and ball control and some little technique adjustments we made and now she is involving herself in so many plays,” Carty said. “She is really blossoming into the player that we all knew she could be.”
Evans led City High with 25 digs over the weekend as City High collected wins over Council Bluffs Lewis Central, Davis County and Western Dubuque while dropping matches to Durant and 5A No. 2 Ankeny Centennial.
“I think pieces are starting to connect with my passing and connecting with our setters,” Evans said. “I think things are playing out the way I wanted them to but I still think we can hit that next level.”