Volleyball Bumps Competition and Sets High Expectations

Senior+Alexus+Anderson+motivates+the+Albemarle+girls+at+home+in+their+3-0+victory+over+Halifax+in+the+Conference+championships+on+Nov.+11.

Katie Pajewski

Senior Alexus Anderson motivates the Albemarle girls at home in their 3-0 victory over Halifax in the Conference championships on Nov. 11.

Alex Leslie, Staff Reporter

An undefeated regular season is nothing new for the varsity volleyball team, what is new are the three sophomores. Although AHS volleyball will be losing six seniors after this year, they gained three “promising” sophomores.

“We will be losing a huge front row such as big blockers and amazing hitters, but I believe Coach [Ragland] will work the underclassmen hard to be ready next season,” senior Alexus Anderson said.

The seniors include Michaela Malboeuf, Lexi Brown, Sarah Woods, Hannah Deal, Chelsea Woodfolk and Anderson. Deal led the team in both service points and aces. Woods led the team in attack percentage and kills. Brown led the patriots with 46 stuff blocks.

The three sophomores include Ellie Benning, Cindy Yu, and Lindsey Earles. Benning led the team with 638 total assists on the season, the sixth most in Albemarle history.

“The team helped my confidence a lot and helped me out a lot during the season,” Benning said. “From the first game when I was shaking at the net, to the end of the season.”

The Lady Pats won 45 sets while losing a total of three sets throughout the entire regular season. The change to the Jefferson District didn’t present them with any problems.

“No team in the Jefferson District really showed out and gave us a hard time.” said Anderson.

Albemarle completed their second consecutive undefeated regular season, along with winning the District and Conference tournaments in the VHSL playoffs.

“Our kids work extremely hard,” head coach Mark Ragland said. “ They want to write their own page in Albemarle’s history books.”

The success of the volleyball team is determined in only two weeks. The girls tried out for the team on Aug. 5 and were playing their first scrimmage against Madison only 15 days after.

“We started practices the first or second week in August, so we had a few weeks to work together before school and our games started,” Woods said. “Honestly, when you spend as much time together every week, it’s hard not to come together pretty quickly.”

The early trust the girls built continued throughout the season the girls worked on bonding. The girls use trust exercises, games, and other out of school activities to enhance the team’s spirit and unity.

In order to obtain success on the court “we stress a family unit” Ragland said.

“We spent a lot of time together. We had sleepovers in the pre-season, and before every home game we would have a team dinner,” Anderson said. “There were no cliques within our team, everyone was there for each other.”

The team chemistry helped the girls come back whenever they were down.

“I was really pleased how they fought through adversity,” said Ragland.

Without this year’s “family unit,” Ragland thinks next year’s team will struggle at the net with a lack of height. Brown was the only six foot player, leaving the tallest returning player, Paige Hanssen, at five feet- eleven inches.

“Out of the six of us seniors leaving, five of us were hitters, so I think that the team will lose some of the strength in the front line with hitting and blocking,” Woods said. “On the bright side, we do have some returning varsity players who are strong hitters as well as promising junior varsity hitters.”

The seniors left their mark with the Conference 16 title; although they lost to the Conference 14 champion, Tuscarora 3-2 in the Regional tournament.

“I was happy with how we played. We played our hearts out in the last game and gave it our all,” Benning said. “I’m happy because we had a lot of accomplishments. We all would have liked to go further than we did, but we don’t have any regrets.”