DOBSON — A senior leader can be an important piece to the puzzle for a high school sports’ team, and the Surry Central volleyball team lost six of these important pieces to graduation this summer.
However, the Golden Eagles will have three rising seniors from last year’s team that made it to the second round of the 2A playoffs and went 13-13, 5-5 in the Western Piedmont.
Ashlyn Jewell, Jess Fowler and Madison Robertson gained some valuable experience in 2014, but they also must provide the necessary leadership in 2015.
Surry Central head coach Carrie Hutchens is fully confident that her new seniors are up to the challenge.
“Those three were huge factors for us last season, and now they’ve become our three senior leaders,” Hutchens said. “When they’re on the court, there is a certain calm feeling for our players. They are going to be playing a whole lot this year.”
Jewell is one of the most diverse players on the Golden Eagles’ roster. She will bring vital experience back to the setter position, but she also recorded 126 kills last season, which is the highest number of the three returning players.
“It’s awesome how versatile (Jewell) is,” Hutchens said. “We can run a lot of different plays with her as the setter and a threat to go get some kills. It just allows us to run a tighter offense.”
Fowler is another player with a wide variety of skills for Surry Central. Hutchens envisions Fowler seeing time on the court as the setter, attacker and even the libero.
Fowler’s 279 digs were second-most on the team last year. She also slammed 98 kills and will look to increase that number this season.
“Having Jess on the court helps in so many ways,” Hutchens said. “She knows the game and sees the game really well. She’s a staple for the team and has really stepped up this summer.”
Robertson, the final senior, returns as the starting libero. She led the Golden Eagles with 321 digs in 2014 as the anchor of the Central defense.
“I don’t have to worry with (Robertson) on the back row,” Hutchens said. “She covers a lot of ground and organizes everyone.”
Aside from these three seniors, Hutchens will have to rely on multiple inexperienced players if Surry Central is going to improve on its .500 record.
Sophomore Ema Coe received some late-season playing time on the varsity team last season, but she will have a much bigger role in 2015. After earning the MVP award for the JV squad, Coe will be expected to have an impact hitting, blocking and passing the ball.
Sarah Ford is another sophomore to look out for. Hutchens likes to play two setters at all times, and Ford will line up alongside Jewell. Ford’s presence will allow Jewell to take some chances and attack the net.
More new faces will need to have an impact, but Surry Central believes there is an easy fix for a team without experience.
“We are a young team, but that doesn’t mean we lack the talent, just the experience,” Hutchens said. “I think we are going to be competitive because of just how hard we’re working.”
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and firstname.lastname@example.org