Posted: 1:27 pm Thursday, September 1st, 2011
By Jeff Greer
The 2011 volleyball season is off and running, so let’s lay out what to expect this fall.
There are tons of story lines coming into the new season:
1. The powerful stay powerful. In 2010, two area teams (Martin County and Lake Worth Christian) reached the state-title matches of their respective classes. Two more (Jensen Beach, Summit Christian) reached the regional finals. Several other teams — Boca, Jupiter, Spanish River, Wellington, Okeechobee and others — put together impressive campaigns.
Don’t expect any of those teams to fall from grace this season. If anything, they’ve gotten better. Martin County (see the team rankings below) graduated Molly O’Neil and Sara Loomis, but Nicole Walch and Mallori Moffat are back for the Tigers. Outside hitter Madisen Lydon and middle hitter Arianna Bethel join Danielle Dodge to form a very solid junior core.
Jupiter returns star libero Morgan Lear and a whole cast of seniors. Boca Raton lost Post Player of the Year Melissa Green, last year’s libero, but returns star front-liners Lindsey Knapp and Lauren Gainer. Wellington only graduated one key player from last year and has already impressed in the early going of 2011, with Katelyn Rawls, Abby Jo Winsor and Kelly Sullivan leading the way. At Spanish River, loads of talent from last year is gone, but the young Sharks have plenty of promise. West Boca also hopes to compete in a winnable District 14-7A. Madison Ahearn is back for Dwyer, and so is Palm Beach Gardens’ Anne Corrigan. Jensen Beach has a great shot at making another run deep into the Class 5A playoffs. And Okeechobee, though it lost LeAnna Cotton, still has Paige McCrary and other talent back from a district-winning team last fall.
At the small-school level, Lake Worth Christian is again the class of the crop. The Defenders have a “younger than usual” team according to coach Terri Kaiser, but (as always) is good enough to make a run at another state-title appearance. Sam Evans leads a promising King’s Academy team, and Cardinal Newman should be competitive again with St. Andrew’s. Summit Christian graduated Amber Courtwright and Vicki Morrell but still has its sights set on a district crown. Trinity Christian expects to challenge Summit for that District 13-3A title, while American Heritage hopes to continue its improvement over the past few seasons. Benjamin may have graduated its two stars (Christie Nicklaus and Christine Casey), but the Bucs have a nice group of seniors back, led by libero Anna Dwyer.
2. Terri Kaiser’s drive for 500.The legendary coach is on the brink of 500 career wins at Lake Worth Christian. She’s 498 now, with a tri-match planned for Tuesday against FAU High and Grandview Prep. The first match–against FAU High–is slated to start at 4 p.m.
3. District realignment. With the FHSAA creating a new class system (1A through 8A), the districts have changed. Dwyer, Jupiter, Palm Beach Central, Palm Beach Gardens and Wellington are all packed into the same grouping. Boca will have to fight off Park Vista and Spanish River. Martin County and Okeechobee are in the same District 12-7A up north. District 13-3A (see above) should be a fun race to follow.
1. Martin County
2. Boca Raton
3. Lake Worth Christian
6. Jensen Beach
7. Spanish River
9. Park Vista
10. West Boca Raton
Players to watch
Madison Ahearn, outside hitter, Dwyer
Dani Chiste, outside hitter, Pope John Paul II
Alma Colas, setter, John I. Leonard
Anne Corrigan, middle blocker, Palm Beach Gardens
Anna Dwyer, libero, Benjamin
Sam Evans, setter, King’s Academy
Alaina Fox, opposite hitter, West Boca Raton
Lauren Gainer, middle blocker, Boca Raton
Kristin Kintz, libero, Lake Worth Christian
Lindsey Knapp, outside hitter, Boca Raton
Amanda Lake, outside hitter, Boca Raton Christian
Morgan Lear, libero, Jupiter
Amanda King, setter/middle blocker, Lake Worth Christian
Melissa Kulik, outside hitter, Trinity Christian
Paige McCrary, middle blocker, Okeechobee
Brooke Mesner, setter, Spanish River
Mallori Moffat, setter, Martin County
Taylor Pak, setter, American Heritage
Katelyn Rawls, outside hitter, Wellington
Kristen Reid, outside hitter/setter, Lake Worth Christian
Emma Rocha, setter, Pope John Paul II
Sofia Sanchez, middle blocker, Summit Christian
Keelin Severtson, setter, Cardinal Newman
Jillian Shemanski, middle hitter, Jupiter
Nicole Walch, outside hitter, Martin County
Abby Jo Winsor, libero, Wellington