The season-opener is just around the corner, and Carson High volleyball coach Robert Maw is already minus one of his best players for the first few weeks of the season.
Natalie Anderson, one of the top setters in Northern Nevada with 631 assists last year and 171 digs, suffered an ankle injury in an open gym, and will miss the opener at home against Reno (Aug. 29) and the tournament in Las Vegas over Labor Day weekend.
It certainly is a big loss, but Maw is blessed to have two good setters — Anderson and Abby Pradere — on his 13-person squad.
“We’ll start the season with Abby (Pradere) at setter,” said Maw, whose team is coming off a 21-11 campaign and a 7-3 record against Sierra League teams. “Abby did a great job in club at setter, and she will do a great job for us. The only problem is I lose my best defender, so I’m expecting Abbey Paulson to step into the libero role.
“I have some decisions to make because of the injury to Natalie. I’m toying with going to a 6-2 and keeping both girls in there when Natalie comes back. Right now we’ll be using a 5-1. Natalie should be cleared in a couple of weeks.”
According to Maw, Anderson is being considered for a D-I scholarship in Florida.
Pradere was second on the team with 250 assists, and she led the squad with 228 digs. She’s fearless and gets even the hardest shots back up.
For the first time in four years, Maw won’t have Jaycie Roberts at his disposal. The libero turned outstanding outside hitter graduated and is now playing Division I volleyball for Niagara University. She will be difficult to replace.
“We have more height up front than we have had in a while,” Maw said. “Replacing Jaycie will be by committee; a small committee.”
The group includes returnees Dajarrah Navarro (67 kills), Ku’ulei Haupu (56 kills), Stefanie Schmidt (31 kills) and Audrey Breeding, who is up from the junior varsity. Also in the mix is Carissa Wiley. Shea DeJoseph (91 kills, 27 digs, 10 blocks) was solid at middle blocker.
“Ku’ulei has a lot of power,” Maw said. “Dajarrah played club for the first time, and while she didn’t get a ton of playing time, she is greatly improved and a more confident player this year. She is a different player.”
Paulson had some stellar moments last year and finished with 66 digs. She will be counted on to pick up the slack while Pradere sets. Another player expected to contribute defensively is Camryn Quilling, who’s up from JV.
“She was a pleasant surprise,” Maw said. “She played very good defense and can attack (if we need her to). I also think Wiley will surprise a lot of people.”
Rounding out the team are Cheyanne Prado-Holland, Hannah Pembrook and Kamille Soderstrom.
On paper, Carson, Bishop Manogue and Douglas should all be in the top three with Wooster, Galena and Damonte Ranch battling for the final playoff spot.