Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
If you remember last season — and how could you forget — the area’s volleyball scene provided plenty of drama and an abundance of success.
Between the SVC, SOC, FAC and SHAC, the four conferences within SOSA’s coverage area, three different programs earned district titles before Wheelersburg represented the Southeast District in a Division III state semifinal.
But en route to those postseason finishes, there were plenty of individual performances to rave about, multiple records broken and tons of matches that won’t soon be forgotten.
As for this season, we expect much more of the same. But before it happens, we decided to compile a list of the coverage area’s top 30 players. It was an absolute bear to do so, but we think we’ve got a list of 30 athletes who are the absolute best at their craft.
Remember, this list only includes players from within SOSA’s coverage area and it isn’t an end all, be all. We encourage discussion and getting our athletes the recognition they deserve is always our mission.
20. Ava Hassel, Notre Dame
2019 statistics: 110 kills, 38 aces, 6 blocks, 418 digs, 32 assists
After a year where she spent the majority of her time as a key cog on the Titans’ defense, Hassel will likely see an expanded role within the team’s offensive plans. Notre Dame lost several top options at the net and, knowing Hassel’s skill, she’ll be counted on to fill several pairs of shoes. Look for her kill numbers to rise exponentially while she stays solid everywhere else.
19. Kacey Pierce, Unioto
2019 statistics: 318 kills, 2 aces, 49 blocks, 30 digs, 4 assists
There were few players who finished the season hotter than Pierce last season. The junior ended up leading the Shermans in kills and posted a 33.9 kill percentage along the way. That’s in 938 attack attempts, which was also a top mark. Now heading into her senior year, Pierce’s game should be polished even more. She’s a dark horse candidate for the SVC’s POY award.
18. Lexie Lockwood, Southeastern
2019 statistics: 0 kills, 6 aces, 0 blocks, 461 digs, 11 assists
Lockwood missed the beginning parts of last season and when she returned to the court, it was instantly evident how imperative she was at Southeastern. The sophomore made just 74 dig errors in 535 attempts and averaged 19.2 digs per match. The Panthers don’t have a senior on this year’s roster. That makes Lockwood’s presence on the court that much more meaningful.
17. Lauren Jolly, Wheelersburg
2019 statistics: 11 kills, 18 aces, 23 blocks, 185 digs, 898 assists
Anytime you log almost 900 assists in a single season, you’re doing something right. She made just 37 ball-handling errors in 81 sets and averaged 11.1 assists per set for a program that played in its first-ever state semifinal. Jolly is one of the most sure-handed setters in the area. With multiple talented hitters around her, Jolly will be locked in once again this fall.
16. Marissa Mullins, Westfall
2019 statistics: 180 kills, 14 aces, 52 blocks, 81 digs, 10 assists
Mullins’ 5-foot-11 frame usually spoiled opponents’ offensive attacks on its own. But when Mullins revealed her full arsenal, she was nearly unstoppable. At the net, her 52 blocks ranked second on the team while her 180 kills was the team’s third-best mark. As she enters her junior year, she should be more dominant than ever as she accepts a larger leadership role.
15. Olivia Smith, Paint Valley
2019 statistics: 269 kills, 16 aces, 12 blocks, 309 digs, 5 assists
When the Bearcats needed a point last season, they immediately looked for Smith. Her 269 kills were 165 more than any of her teammates. She had a 24.9 kill percentage and received 1,079 attack attempts, 485 more than any other Bearcat. She enters her junior year with 415 career kills and 628 career digs. Look for both of those numbers to inch closer to 1,000.
14. Sierra Kendall, North Adams
2019 statistics: 29 kills, 54 aces, 27 blocks, 372 digs, 739 assists
Kendall was a key piece to a North Adams team that finished 20-4 overall and 13-0 in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference. She’s now a proven commodity, and only a junior, with 1,433 career assists and 601 career digs in 167 sets. In 4,609 career ball-handling attempts, she’s made just 64 errors. She’ll only get better as she develops, which is bad news for opponents.
13. Haidyn Wamsley, Northwest
2019 statistics: 288 kills, 48 aces, 90 blocks, 201 digs, 13 assists
In one of the best seasons Northwest has enjoyed in quite some time, Wamsley checked all the boxes to be the team’s most important player. Her 288 kills, 48 aces and 90 blocks were all team highs, and she was 21 digs away from being the team leader in that category as well. She’s one of the most feared hitters in the SOC, and rightfully so, and don’t look for that to change anytime soon.
12. Carli Knight, Waverly
2019 statistics: 322 kills, 19 aces, 12 blocks, 361 digs, 28 assists
When Knight swings at the net, it’s with a vengeance. She’s one of the area’s most dynamic players in terms of all-around skill and she’s the key piece to the Tigers’ potential success. Over the past three seasons, the senior has led Waverly to a 52-18 mark. You can expect more wins in Tigertown this season as Knight looks to build upon 775 career kills and 799 career digs.
11. Jenna Martin, Adena
2019 statistics: 234 kills, 44 aces, 75 blocks, 89 digs, 9 assists
Martin made an instant splash on the area’s volleyball scene last fall as an imposing figure at the net for the Warriors. In 159 career sets, the 5-foot-9 middle has logged 387 kills and 129 blocks. She’s hard to hit around and she’s a nightmare to defend. She had 14 kills in Adena’s district championship win and posted nine in the district semi match. She’s a big-time player who seems to shine in big-time moments. Look for her to continue her dominance this season.