By Chris Parker
Nevada volleyball is poised for a big season after losing just one senior from last year’s 17-win team. Adding to the excitement this season, Nevada joins the Big 8 Conference this season.
“We are very excited to join this conference and because we will be competing against several teams we’ve never competed against,” Nevada head coach Ashley Thoreson said. “I think it adds a little more pressure and competitiveness to our girls, motivating them to set the bar high.”
Senior outside hitter Adrian Bond will be a force for Nevada this year after leading the team in kills with 240 and aces with 29. She also was top three on the team in blocks (11), digs (208) and serve-receives (237).
“She continues to grow as a player and I know her senior year will be her best yet. She has worked hard on her consistency and is powerful and aggressive on the outside,” Thoreson said. “We will rely on her abilities both front row and back row. She keeps her emotions in check and plays very consistent, even under pressure, which has helped lead to her successful career.”
Fellow Sydney Ernsbarger will give the Lady Tigers a potent one-two hitting punch after a 205-kill season last year. She was second on the team in digs with 208 as well.
“Sydney has also grown strides from last season and has become a very effective blocker and attacker for us,” Thoreson said. “She is a smart player and brings a lot of energy and intensity. Having the option of two powerful hitters will make defending our attack that much harder.”
Hailey Jackson will guide the offense as a setter once again this season. The senior distributed 552 assists last year as a junior.
“We have focused this offseason on quickening our offense and Hailey is returning as a much smarter, more vocal leader and setter for us,” Thorseon said. “She handles pressure well and will keep a level head in tough situations, which will be key as season progresses.”
Stacy Penning will take on an outside hitter role in her junior season after lead the team in digs (304) and serve-receives (429).
“Stacy will step up to play as our other outside and I’m excited to see her show her abilities in the front row as well as her scrappiness in the back row,” Thoreson said. “She brings a lot of passion and knowledge to the court and does a great job of leading by example.”
Senior Laiken Cussimanio will be a right side hitter and blocker for Nevada. Classmate Kat Ream will be a right side hitter. Juniors Lani Coonrod (defensive specialist) and Lindley Ferry (middle blocker) also return to the varsity lineup.
The junior trio of Julia Cassidy (defensive specialist), Lindy Smith (setter) and Teagan Charles (right side) will also factor into the varsity equation.
Expectations are high in Nevada with all of the talent returning.
“I have very high expectations for this group. We return the same roster, with exception of one,” Thoreson said. “We have a whole new schedule, so that makes it hard to gauge where we will stand but this group is competitive and they have great team chemistry, so our goals are set high.”
Nevada opens the season on Aug. 30 at home against Mt. Vernon.