By Chris Parker
Few area volleyball teams will have more holes to fill due to graduation than the Clever Lady Blue Jays this year. Clever graduated two all-state players in Harper Little and Abi Menzies along with all-conference selection Tessa Newman. Ashten Graaf, who played every set last year, also graduated.
“The seniors we lost without a doubt will be hard to replace their athleticism and talents. They have established themselves as legends for Clever High School. The legacy started with Coach Teresa Hanafin and has continued for some time. These ladies maintained that status and we hope to continue that,” Clever head volleyball coach Angie Wise said.
Carly DeBriyn and Kenna Wise will be the top returning players for Clever this year. They both earned all-conference honors as setters last season. Wise led the team with 369 assists while DeBriyn had 283.
“Kenna and Carly must step up and lead this team vocally, physically, and mentally with patience to improve the Lady Jays,” Wise said. “Carly will have to bring much more production in offense and defense. She will be called to change from right side hitter to middle or outside depending on the situation. She has speed and jumping ability to play any position on the team. Kenna will also change from right side to outside and has worked hard to improve her swing. She has to be the defensive leader once again with her quickness and game savvy.”
Kylie Wenger and Anna Kate Riley also return after each played in at least 60 sets last season.
“Kylie is a very athletic middle hitter and is energetic on the court. Kylie continues to improve on her consistency and discipline. She has been a vocal leader this summer,” Wise said. “Anna Kate Riley will be looked upon to play defense and pass with her speed. Her leadership and consistency hitting and passing will be vital to the success of Clever.”
Some players moving up from a successful junior varsity squad include: Camille Bishop (senior libero), Abbi VanZandt (junior right side), Brandi Riley (junior), Kendra Hancock (junior) and Kendra Stewart (junior).
Wise will be looking for the team to improve each match out to maintain Clever’s recent level of success.
“Clever Volleyball must continue the tradition of success. The Lady Jays will need to improve each and every day. We must be one more defensive minded since we are much smaller than in the past. Our expectation is that we can compete with each team every time on the court,” Wise said.
Clever will attend a jamboree at Mt. Vernon on Aug. 28 before opening the regular season on Sept. 3 at Crane.