North Surry volleyball coach Shane Slate has never been one to showboat and tell everyone how good his teams are. Instead, Slate lets the players do the talking on the court.
The Lady Greyhounds have been the measuring stick in the volleyball world for nearly a decade. This years seniors were in second grade when the Hounds last surrendered a regular season conference match. From 2009 to the present day, the team has won 114 straight conference matches. The 2017 team kept the team’s winning tradition alive by finishing 29-2 and reaching the 2A Western Regional Final.
Five Greyhound players graduated last year, leaving big shoes to fill for the 2018 team. Paige Sizemore led the Western Piedmont 2A Conference in attacks and was third among all 2A schools in the state. Dixie Fulk finished second in the WPAC in assists, and Mikaela Johnson led the team the conference in blocks by a considerable margin. Both Sizemore and Fulk are continuing the volleyball careers at the collegiate level, while Johnson is playing college basketball.
This years, four North Surry seniors are prepared to take the reins and lead the Lady Hounds to another conference championship: Camille Cartwright, Evann Shelnutt, Natalie Eaton, and Emma Haynes.
“We’ve got a lot of things accomplished, figured some things out,” Slate said concerning the preseason. “We need some game time to really test us.”
Cartwright returns as an outside hitter following an outstanding junior campaign. Cartwright was fourth in the conference in kills, with two of those ahead being Johnson and Sizemore.
Evann Shelnutt will take to the court as the team’s libero again this season. Evann led the team in aces last season and is just one of two returning WPAC players that finished in the top 10. She also finished second in the division in digs with 557.
Both Haynes and Eaton finished in the top 10 in the WPAC in blocks despite Johnson being the starting middle hitter. Eaton tied for the third best blocks per set ratio in the conference. Slate reported that Haynes made the move to outside hitter for the upcoming season.
Filling out the roster are four juniors and three sophomores: juniors Ellie McHone, Hannah Moxley, Olivia Jones, and Michaela Stone; along with sophomores Delanie Fulk, Abby Draughn, and Jesi Shelnutt.
The standouts from last years JV team led the team to a 13-8 (7-2) record. Moxley led the team in kills, while Draughn finished first in attacks. Jesi Shelnutt stands 5-foot-11 and led the team in both aces and blocks. Delanie Fulk totaled 205 serve attempts and only had five such errors.
Slate is ready to get into the season and compete. He still isn’t set on his lineup, and said changes might be made throughout the opening matches.
“We’ve got a lot of different kids that can do a lot of different things, so it will probably be a match-to-match thing at first. We want to see who fits well together.”
The opening contests will throw the team directly into the deep end. Tough matches against Watauga, East Surry, Ronald Reagan, and Alleghany await the Lady Hounds in the first two weeks of the season.
“We do that every year. We play really quality opponents as part of our non-conference schedule to work bugs out, so when it comes conference time, we don’t have to make as many adjustments.”
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