arson High School’s volleyball team ended a long drought when it reached the NIAA State Championships last season.
Coach Robert Maw doesn’t want it to stop there, and he believes his team can make it two straight in 2015.
The reason for his optimism is simple.
The Senators, who went 18-10 overall and 13-3 in league, lost only Sarah Christl to graduation, and they get Gabby Palazzolo back from knee surgery.
The difference between this year and last is the state tourney is in Las Vegas, meaning only one North team gets to go, so it’s regional title or bust. Maw knows it won’t be an easy road.
Manogue lost just a couple of players. Damonte will be a strong competitor, and the defending regional champ Douglas Tigers will also be in the mix. On paper, Manogue and Carson should be 1-2, not necessarily in that order.
“We have to find a way to get past Manogue,” Maw said. “We split with them last year. I think Damonte will be good. Last year they were very athletic. They just struggled on the court as a group. Douglas will be good as usual.
“We’ve got almost all our top players back. Both our middle blockers are back. Jaycie (Roberts) and Juliana (Anderson) are back and looking good. I’m pleased with our quick offense. We’re taking it to the next step. The kids have bought in.”
The Senators will get tested early when they they travel to Las Vegas Aug. 28-29 for a tournament. They took a game off top-ranked Coronado last season, and Maw said Shadow Ridge, the No.2 ranked team entering last year’s state tournament, is in Carson’s pool.
“We’ll see where we’re at,” Maw said. “It will be a good test. We’ll get a look at teams we could possibly see if we make state.”
Carson rode the outside hitting of Roberts (299 kills, 232 digs) and Anderson (277 kills) to victory time and again in 2014. Both figure to be even better this year. Anderson had a kill percentage of 39 while Roberts was a shade behind at 35. Both have the ability to carry a team, and while both are good hitters, both have great volleyball IQs.
“Jaycie was such a dominating force last year,” Maw said. “Juliana and Jaycie are two of the best volleyball players in northern Nevada. I expect big seasons out of them.”
Kylie Riske (87 kills, 20 assists, 30 digs, 95 blocks) complements the duo up front, and Maw said Keelin Pilgrim (47 kills, 14 blocks, 23 digs) has improved since last year. Alison Kibbe contributed 31 kills last year,
“Keelin is looking strong,” Maw said. “Her swing is really good right now, and she understands the game more. Kylie is going to play right side, and we’ll have Gabby there, too. Gabby has come back strong from the knee injury. She had a great summer.”
In the middle is Maddie Jergesen, who led the team in blocks with 105 and was third on the team with 162 kills. She has a verbal commitment to the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Her and Riske give the Senators a strong 1-2 block, arguably the best in northern Nevada.
Makenzie Tucker returns at libero. She led the team with 243 digs a year ago. A dangerous server, Tucker led the team with 67 aces. At setter is sophomore Natalie Anderson, who had 758 assists last year. She also had 101 digs, 40 service aces, 48 kills and 37 blocks. Senior Katie Mutuska, who saw limited time up front last year, gives the Senators depth up front. She had seven kills and 10 blocks a year ago.
Maw has three newcomers this year — freshman setter Abigail Pradere, Alyssa Woodward and Skylar Schwartz, who was a late-season call-up to varsity during last year’s playoff run. Woodward and Schwartz played JV a year ago.
Pradere could also be a defensive specialist accoring to Maw.
“Abigail played at an AAU tournament in Florida last year, and she is also part of the ODP (Olympic Development Program) like Natalie (Anderson) was,” Maw said. “Skylar will be the back-up libero. She is a good all-around player.”