Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
One state semifinalist, five district champions and a handful of sectional title winners …. yeah, you could say this past volleyball season was an exciting one.
Southern Ohio Sports Authority was right there every step of the way, covering individual milestones, improbable feats and wins that changed history.
After a fun-filled year, take a look at our All-Area team, which consists of 25 area players who were at their best throughout the fall season.
Kylee Barney | Wheelersburg | Middle | Junior
At 6-foot-2, Barney was literally the center of attention on most opponents’ game plans. She set a single-season school record with 108 blocks this fall and ended the year leading the team in kills with 260. Teams had trouble hitting around her and definitely couldn’t hit through her as she caused havoc at the net all year long, helping the Pirates win 73 straight sets.
Alli Bennett | Zane Trace | Hitter | Junior
While instrumental in the Pioneers’ trip to a district final, Bennett helped the program take the next step forward, as a whole, all year long. The junior led the team with 247 kills — 68 better than the next best mark — while posting 34 blocks, 354 digs and 311 assists. She proved her worth over and over again to a team that ended with 15 wins. She’ll be its leader next year.
Mallory Bergan | Wheelersburg | Hitter | Senior
Bergan was Alli McQuay’s partner in crime as the Pirates’ only other senior. She was fierce on offense but may have been the most valuable on the defensive side of things. While helping the Pirates to a state semifinal berth, she had 188 kills and 15 aces alongside 40 blocks and 265 digs. In her career, she posted 812 kills, 69 aces, 168 blocks and 882 digs. She certainly leaves a sizable void for coach Allen Perry to fill.
Rayana Burns | Washington | Hitter | Senior
Burns’ athletic abilities allowed her to do things other players, good players at that, simply couldn’t. In dire times, when the Blue Lions needed a point in the worst type of ways, they looked to Burns, who usually delivered the goods. The senior, who’s signed to run track at Dayton, ended the year with a team-high 376 kills, 18 aces, 105 blocks and 207 digs.
Amber Cottrill | Unioto | Hitter | Senior
After the loss of three extraordinary seniors from last year’s team, Cottrill was catapulted into a leadership position this fall. Her numbers showed she had the best season of her career. She surpassed the 1,000-dig mark with 437 while posting 241 kills, 31 aces and 27 blocks. Her athleticism and ability to find open spots on the floor will be missed on the outside next season.
Ally Coriell | Minford | Middle | Junior
As the Falcons won 12 matches, Coriell was one of the main reasons for every single win. The 6-foot-4 middle was the team leader in kills with 351, blocks with 44 and aces with 40. Minford loses just three seniors from this year’s roster, which means Coriell will be back in action next fall, leading an experienced group. She’ll enter the year needing just 293 kills to reach 1,000.
Olivia Fliehman | Miami Trace | Middle | Junior
For the first time in school history, the Panthers clinched a share of a conference title while finishing 8-2 in FAC action. That’s one year after finishing 4-18 overall and 3-7 in league play. Fliehman led that charge all year long, hurting opposing defenses with a powerful swing and frustrating opposing offenses with her size. She’ll be back and even better next fall.
Sophie Fulkerson | Chillicothe | Hitter | Senior
When you think of passion and power, Fulkerson comes to mind. The FAC’s Player of the Year certainly earned that title after battling back from an injury that kept her sidelined most of her junior season. That was unwelcome news to the rest of the league as Fulkerson went on a tirade against opposing defenses, finishing with a team-high 352 kills, 61 aces and 351 digs.
Carigan Haggy | Western | Hitter | Senior
While Western enjoyed its best season in quite some time, Haggy did the same individually. She led the team in kills with 284, alongside 32 aces and 564 digs. Haggy was named the SOC I’s Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team all-district selection. Her Indians enjoyed a year where they finished 16-7 overall with notable wins over Clay, Paint Valley and Eastern.
Sophia Hassel | Notre Dame | Hitter | Senior
Sets usually found Hassel’s swing, which usually led to a point for the Titans. Coming back from an injury, Hassel battled her way through her senior volleyball campaign and helped Notre Dame recapture a conference title. She spent her last fall as a Titan compiling 132 kills, 52 aces and 307 digs. She was, along with Schaefer, the heart and soul of her team.
Skylar Hice | Southeastern | Hitter | Senior
It’s a shame that some players have to end their careers. Hice fits that description. Over the past four years, she’s been nothing but fantastic for Southeastern, leading the Panthers to four consecutive district final appearances and two regional final trips. In her career, Hice posted more than 1,500 digs and 1,000 kills. This past fall alone, she had 355 kills, 35 aces, 32 blocks and 531 digs. She ends her tenure as one of the most decorated Panthers of all-time.
Carli Knight | Waverly | Hitter | Junior
In all opinions, Waverly pieced together a magnificent season that simply sooner than the program would have liked it to. The Tigers were 20-4 with a 13-3 mark in the SOC II. Junior hitter Carli Knight was a central reason why that was accomplished. She finished the year with 322 kills, 19 aces and 361 digs. The first-team all-district selection now has 775 career kills.
Makenna Lovely | Adena | Hitter | Sophomore
In the Warriors’ final four games, Lovely had at least 11 kills in each. That trend describes her season as a whole … she continued to get better as her team went deeper into its schedule. In fact, she posted double-digit kills in seven of Adena’s last eight matches before totaling 223. That number was paired with 331 digs and 26 aces during a splendid sophomore campaign.
Faith Maloney | South Webster | Hitter | Senior
Maloney was the ring leader for a South Webster team that won its first district title since 2016. The sophomore won co-Player of the Year honors in District 14 and led the Jeeps to a 20-6 overall mark. In total, she tallied 391 kills, 71 aces, 76 blocks and 228 digs. She was electric all season long and will be back to terrorize opponents at the net for two years to come.
Jenna Martin | Adena | Hitter | Sophomore
As one of the key members of Adena’s talent-loaded sophomore class, Martin was quick to offer a helping hand this season. Her 234 kills ranked second on the team while she also added 44 aces, a tea-high 75 blocks and 89 digs. She was a central reason why the Warriors managed to win their first district championship since 2016 … and she’s got two years left in Frankfort.
Alli McQuay | Wheelersburg | Hitter | Senior
If there was an honor to earn, McQuay owns the trophy. The Pirates’ senior leader won Southern Ohio Conference and District 14 Player of the Year honors while also earning first-team All-Ohio status … and for good reason. She led Wheelersburg to an SOC II crown and its first-ever regional title while amassing 254 kills, 42 aces, 38 blocks and 204 digs.
Abbey Munn | Jackson | Hitter | Senior
When the Ironladies needed a point, they looked Munn’s way. The senior led Jackson to 12 wins, five in conference play, and had 206 kills — 83 more than the next best mark — 34 aces, 34 blocks and 190 digs. She was Jackson’s most effective player on offense while playing an imperative role on the defensive side.
Kristin Phillips | Westfall | Middle | Junior
Following in her sister Hannah’s footsteps, Phillips was named the SVC Player of the Year after leading the Mustangs to their first league title since 2013. While Westfall went 20-5, Phillips amassed a team-high 402 kills alongside 38 aces, 71 blocks and 200 digs. As a junior, she recorded her 1,000th career kill back on Oct. 23. She’ll add to that number, exponentially, next fall.
Hallie Pinkerton | Unioto | Libero | Senior
If you’ve studied Pinkerton throughout her four-year career, you know just how good she is. This season, while being asked to play multiple positions, she helped the Shermans finish 16-8 while totaling 66 kills, 29 aces, 40 blocks and 364 digs. Across the board, Pinkerton was as advertised. During her tenure at Unioto, she helped the Shermans to an overall record of 84-17.
Cassie Schaefer | Notre Dame | Setter | Senior
A model of consistency, Schaefer put an end to a storied career while leading the Titans to a fourth consecutive district title. While Notre Dame went 22-4, Schaefer passed out 623 assists — surpassing 2,000 in her four-year tenure — while also adding 65 kills, 46 aces and 191 digs into the mix. The senior earned first-team SOC and District Player of the Year honors.
Olivia Smith | Paint Valley | Hitter | Sophomore
Smith was a first-team all-SVC and second-team all-district selection after leading the Bearcats in multiple offensive categories. Her development into the team’s most valuable player was apparent as she finished the year with 269 kills, 16 aces, 12 blocks and 309 digs. She’ll lead a young team into battle once again next season as her teammates look to her as the leader.
Megan Steele | Huntington | Hitter | Sophomore
Coming into the year doubted, not even thought to finish in the top five in the Scioto Valley Conference, Huntington relied on Steele to prove its doubters wrong. She answered that call in a resounding way on a nightly basis. Small in stature but mighty with her swing, Steele pieced together a solid year in all phases by tallying 388 kills, 42 aces and 323 digs. She was one of the main reasons why Huntington seized its first district title since 2016.
Jaelyn Warnock | Clay | Hitter | Senior
One year removed from a state semifinal appearance, Clay had a bit of a down year this fall after the loss of many to graduation. However, Jaelyn Warnock did everything she could … and then some … to lead the Panthers back to glory. The SOC I Player of the Year and honorable mention All-Ohioan tallied 453 kills, 64 aces, 27 blocks and 373 digs.
Haidyn Wamsley | Northwest | Hitter | Junior
As one of the few players who can hit effectively from any spot on the court, Wamsley was fun to watch this season. The junior took yet another step forward while helping the Mohawks take a huge leap forward as they won their first sectional title since 2014. Wamsley led Northwest in multiple statistical categories, including kills (288), aces (48) and blocks (90).
Josie Williams | Westfall | Setter | Senior
There may not have been a player in the area that showed improvement like Williams did … and she wasn’t bad at all beforehand. The Mustangs’ only senior starter consistently stepped up in pressure-filled situations to give her teammates a leader to follow. Williams showed off her array of talent, passing out 434 assists while posting 204 kills, 39 aces and 294 digs.
Honorable Mention Selections
Ellie Harper, Adena; Allison Basye, Huntington; Lexi Lockwood, Southeastern; Kacey Pierce, Unioto; Marissa Mullins, Westfall; Hannah Hale, Zane Trace; Emily Boggs, Wheelersburg; Bri Claxon, South Webster; Hailie Silcott, Waverly; Livi Shonkwiler, Minford; Claire Dettwiller, Notre Dame; Shelby Easter, New Boston; Payton McBee, Chillicothe; Jaelyn Pitzer, McClain; Halli Wall, Washignton