Jacket volleyball gearing up for season
The North Augusta High School volleyball team is constantly striving to improve.
Coming off a 17-11 record that saw them finish third in the region behind Aiken and Lexington, the Jackets are looking to take that next step.
There is plenty of leadership on this year’s team, which will feature five seniors – Haley Dunbar, Haleigh Mauldin, Ndidi Okafor, Julia Spieker and Bailee Hutto. The team also has three juniors – Raynee Spires, Desmonet Wilson and Cydney Mathews; two sophomores – Alli Bell and Eryn McGhee; and a freshman, Tanner Starnes.
Head coach Lindsay Tucker is looking to a handful of her players to help lead the charge, starting with Wilson.
“Desmonet is a junior outside hitter, she contributed a lot to our team last year, but this year as a junior, and, with a year of varsity experience under her belt, I am looking forward to seeing all that she will accomplish,” Tucker said.
Mathews and Okafor will be the team’s middle hitters this year. Tucker noted that in a preseason tournament both had “stellar performances” and that she is expecting that to continue throughout the year. Bell will serve as the team’s setter.
“Alli is a very talented volleyball player,” Tucker said. “She set for us last year as well, but shared the time with our then senior setter. This year, she is stepping up to become our No. 1 setter.”
As far as a new face that Tucker is looking forward to, she was quick to point out the sole freshman on the squad.
“Tanner Starnes is a freshman and has played on JV since seventh grade. She is now on varsity, and I am looking forward to her contributions. Tanner is a very talented athlete and has great ability as a volleyball player.”
Tucker stated that one of the team’s goals this year is to make the playoffs. It will be difficult to do so given that the region features many top flight competitors – alongside Aiken and Lexington are South Aiken and White Knoll, all competing for four spots.
“Last year, we lost five seniors who were all starters,” Tucker said. “Of course, this is not easy to quickly recover from. I have a lot of very talented players, so now we are just trying to work on our chemistry on the court and putting together a winning team.”
This week was to have included a match on Tuesday night at Evans. Wednesday was to have included a tri-match at Lakeside High School against the host team and Fox Creek. The first home match will come on Sept. 10 against Grovetown at 6:30 p.m. and another game on Sept. 12 against Greenbrier also at 6:30 p.m.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013.