By Chris Parker
East Newton volleyball will be looking to replace a strong graduated group of seven players this year after finishing 12-16-3 last season.
“I will definitely miss their leadership. It was great to have that veteran presence,” East Newton Head Coach Rachel Ayo said.
Look for senior Madison McDermott to lead the way this year. McDermott led East Newton in blocks last year with 53 while finishing second in kills with 161.
Expect even more production out of her this season.
“She (McDermott) has really had to step up offensively and especially defensively and holding the leadership role for our team. Her passing has improved greatly and she is doing great reading hitters and knowing her place on the court. From playing strictly front row the past two years, I am very impressed with her back row and defensive skills,” Ayo said.
Her vocal leadership will be a key for East Newton as well.
“Simply, I expect her to be our vocal leader on the court and lead by example off the court as well. I am expecting her to be a stat leader in many categories,” Ayo said.
Ellie Enlow is the lone other returning player that saw significant varsity time last year playing in 58 sets. The junior will be a defensive specialist and outside hitter this year. Classmate Cailyn Ferguson saw some varsity action last year as well. She will see an expanded role as an outside hitter and setter.
Senior Chloe Ferguson will step up to varsity this year as a right side and setter. Past her, Ayo will fill out the varsity rotation with a large group of underclassmen that include: sophomores Norah Lucke (defensive specialist/libero), Ashlyn Hatfield (defensive specialist/outside hitter), Alyssa Coffey (middle back) and Emma Cook (defensive specialist along with freshmen Lillian Korn (right side/defensive specialist) and Kennedy Lucke (setter).
“We are in a big rebuilding year, and we still have a lot to work on. We have grown as a team tremendously over the summer months. Having Madison and Ellie in the front row are going to be a big strength of our team. I believe Madison led our district and conference in blocks last year, which will be a great help. Our serve receive this summer has been very solid as well,” Ayo said. “We will need to improve on everyone being aggressive at the net and defensively, reading our opponents and staying on our toes.”
East Newton will travel to Marionville for a jamboree on Aug. 27. The Lady Patriots will face the host Lady Comets, Sarcoxie and Fordland. The regular season will open up on Sept. 3 at home against Purdy.