By Chris Parker
Licking volleyball has been one of the area’s top programs over the past half-decade with 132 total wins and a third place finish at state in 2019.
Last year, Licking won 30 matches, but came up short of a district title with a loss to Liberty to end the season.
Three seniors graduated from that team including Class 2 All-State selection Kylie Taylor. Winter Murray and Kiley Ingram also graduated. Ingram was an all-district selection.
First-team all-district honoree Hannah Medlock is back after leading the team with 273 kills while finishing second in digs with 302. She will be an outside hitter.
“She (Medlock) will be our powerhouse on the outside,” Licking head coach Terri Moncrief said. “She has worked hard in the off-season and has continued to be one of our primary hitters. Hannah’s defensive game has really improved from last season. This makes her a fantastic all-around player. I am excited to see what she can do this season.”
Senior Abbie Sullins will transition to setter after earning all-district honors as a hitter in 2021. She put down 249 kills as a junior.
“She (Sullins) has stepped into the setting role after being our middle for the last couple of years,” Moncrief said. “She is a left-handed hitter and will make a huge impact on the right side for us. She was a setter until she started playing varsity level so her transition back has been easy for her. I am excited to see what Abbie can do in this new role.”
Senior Maci Sparks gives Licking another strong returning hitter. She had 152 kills last year.
“Maci has really showed off her volleyball IQ this summer,” Moncrief said. “She is communicating well with her teammates and has been able to put the ball on the floor in the moments we have needed her to. Her reading abilities on defense have improved since last season and I am looking forward to seeing what she will do for us this year.”
Linzie Wallace was a libero in her freshman season. This year she will transition to a setter and right side role.
“She (Wallace) has transitioned from libero last year to setting and right side this year,” Moncrief said. “She has made a strong impact on the right side, even with her small stature, she blocks well and has a keen net sense. She communicates well with the team and works very hard in whatever position she plays. I am excited to see her net play improve this season.”
Newcomers to watch this year include: Riley Moloney (junior setter/defensive specialist), Ralee Clayton (sophomore libero), Allie Hock (sophomore middle) and Jadyn Barnes (freshman middle). Moloney, Clayton and Hock all saw between three and 20 sets of varsity time last year.
Moncrief on Moloney: “Riley has made a great transition into our varsity setting role and has done a fantastic job all summer. She always works hard, has a great attitude and communicates well with the players.”
Moncrief on Clayton: “This is a new role for Ralee, she transitioned into the libero position during the off-season and has adapted well, she works hard, reads well and strives to be the best in the position.”
Moncrief on Hock: “It took Allie about two games this summer to understand the pace of varsity volleyball, after that she has been amazing. She is athletic and is going to be a wall for us in the middle this year.”
Moncrief on Barnes: “It’s always difficult for freshman to transition from junior high to varsity, but Jadyn has made the transition look easy. She is athletic and is learning the pace quickly, she is young, but we look to her to be a strong middle for us this year.”
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This year’s team is an athletic group that works well together.
“I think the biggest strength for our team will be our athleticism, communication and team chemistry,” Moncrief said. “Our girls must learn to get gritty and dig in when the pressure is on. We have been working on this aspect of the game all summer.”
Licking opens the regular season on Aug. 29 at home against Liberty.
“This group is very talented and a great group to work with,” Moncrief said. “They hold themselves to high expectations, so I know we will have a successful season. Their goal is to make a deep postseason run and I know they are capable if they work together.”