Harford County has 12 girls high school volleyball teams that have been in gyms around the area working diligently in hopes of achieving successful fall seasons.
Here’s a look at the teams:
Head coach: Jimmia McCluskey (first year)
Top returning players: Savanna Murdock, Jr.; Gianna Braxton, Sr.; Shyla Johnson, Sr.
Key new players: Nachely Velez, Sr.; Lia Lucas, Fr.; Jocleyn Kruger, So.
Outlook: “I look forward to seeing how this new group comes together and plays this upcoming season. Everyone on this varsity team is pretty much new to the varsity level and I think they are more than capable to hang with the best,” coach McCluskey said. “They have been teaching me a lot about volleyball, since this is my first year coaching the sport and not playing. They work hard at practice and are willing to teach each other new things for them to improve as a team. If I had to start my first year off coaching a group for this sport, it would be this group. I have a great mix of grade ranges which will help for future seasons to come.”
Head coach: Dave Simon (third year)
Top returning players: Lexi Couch, Sr. (Outside hitter); Mackenzie Springer, Sr. (Setter); Autumn Grimsley, Sr. (Libero); Megan Cassaday, Jr. (Outside hitter); Jaydn Betters, Jr. (Middle blocker)
Key new players: Anaiah Lewis, Jr. (Middle blocker); Lexi Bell, Jr. (Libero/Defensive specialist); Julia Stoneberg, So. (Outside hitter); Kayden Hardenbrook, So. (Outside hitter); Zoe Tsomos, So. (Outside hitter)
Outlook: Coach Simon says, despite the historic interruption due to COVID, the team should continue their previous successes in 2021. Every player works really hard to get better every day. “The offense should be led by senior and four-year varsity hitter Lexi Couch. If there is going to be a conference player of the year, Couch would be a safe pick,” coach Simon said. Also key to the team’s success will be Springer, Grimsley and several other first- and second-year players. “We expect the team to contend for another UCBAC championship and make another deep run in the playoffs. The season includes matches against some of the top programs in the area, including Westminster (tournament), Mount de Sales, Rising Sun and others. We believe our effort will help set us apart.” In the past four years (three seasons), the program has a record of 47-8, two state regional titles, two state final four appearances, and one state-title appearance.
C. Milton Wright
Head coach: Dave Naugle
Top returning players: Jayda Patterson, Sr. (Outside hitter); Libby Gross, Sr. (Setter)
Key new players: “We have 10 new players that I’d rather not single out quite yet,” coach Naugle said.
Outlook: “We have a mix of all ages on the team this year — five seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen. We’ve moved from the lower Susquehanna Division to the Chesapeake Division,” Naugle said. “With that, we are looking forward to facing tougher competition and making us a stronger team heading into the postseason.”
Head coach: Hannah Whitmire (third year)
Top returning players: Emily Osborne, Sr. (Outside); Gabby Gaines, Sr. (Outside); Harmony Madu, Sr. (Middle); Kayla Martin, Sr. (Libero)
Key new players: McKenzie Badham, So. (Setter)
Outlook: “Happy to be back and having sports this year. Looking forward to a great season ahead,” coach Whitmire said.
Head coach: Bill Stewart (third year)
Top returning players: Allie Book, Sr. (Outside hitter); Amanda Sharpe, Sr. (Middle); Ellery Thompson, Jr. (Outside hitter); Abby Ruth, Sr. (Defensive specialist)
Key new players: Caelyn Sullivan, Sr. (Setter); Renae Gent, Jr. (Middle); Samantha Conrad, Jr. (Outside hitter/Setter); Kyra Douglass, So. (Outside hitter); Adrianna Fares, So. (Defensive specialist)
Outlook: “After winning the Susquehanna Division in 2019, I’m looking forward to tough and competitive matches as the Cougars move up to the Chesapeake Division,” coach Stewart said. “The Cougars will have a good defensive team and can serve the ball well. It remains to be seen if we can hit with some of these highly regarded schools. Let the games begin.”
Head coach: Juston Cross (second year)
Top returning players: Caity Carney, (Outside hitter); Abigail Childers, (Middle hitter); Ella Hollbrook, (Outside hitter)
Key new players: N/A
Outlook: Harford Chrisitan has a full roster of players in grades 9-12. The team consists of six freshman, five sophomores, one junior and two seniors. “The team is very young but talented with great skill and understanding of the game. Strong serving and depth in most positions will be a key factor for our success this year,” coach Cross said. “Carney, Childers and Hollbrook are the upperclassmen that lead the team this year. Having great leadership and examples truly does help the young group coming up. This is a fun group of girls that truly enjoy playing the game with each other.”
Head coach: Greg Carll (first year)
Top returning players: Jayci Carll, Sr. (Opposite hitter); Madison Kelley, Sr. (Outside hitter); Hayden Kobert, Jr. (Outside hitter); Zakia Billinger-Bey, Sr. (Outside hitter); Marisol Macias, Sr. (Middle)
Key new players: Alexandra Holzinger, So. (Libero); Lyla Willinger, So. (Setter)
Outlook: “The coaches are very excited about this mix of talent and team chemistry. A strong attack led by Carll, Kelley and Kobert, combined with the passing and setting skills of newcomers Holzinger and Willinger, sets the stage for an efficient 5/1 offense and strong fundamental presence on the court,” coach Carll said. “Many of the girls continued to play with their club teams despite losing a year with their school and it has shown. We fully expect our strong competitive spirit to churn out more wins than losses this season.”
Havre de Grace
Head coach: Ashley Algard (first year)
Top returning players: Samantha Cubberley, Sr. (Middle blocker); Ava Darling, Sr. (Libero); Adrienne Harris, Sr. (Outside hitter)
Key new players: Rachel Thomas, Jr. (Outside hitter); Sarah Bromley, Jr. (Outside hitter/Opposite); Kaedence Bryant, Sr. (Middle blocker)
Outlook: “I am extremely excited to move up with many of the girls I started my coaching career with on JV volleyball back in 2018. Most of the girls I started with my first year (and their first year in high school) are now with me on varsity as I am the new varsity coach,” coach Algard said. “I am excited to fight for every win, have fun, laugh and make more memories with them. We have a lot of talent on JV that will be outstanding once their skills are fully developed, and we are just excited to be able to play a normal season.”
Head coach: Joe Scheide (second year)
Top returning players: Ella Andrychowski, Sr. (Outside hitter); Rosalie McGuirk, Sr. (Middle hitter); Julia Hudson, Sr. (Libero)
Key new players: Kaitlin Klara, So. (Setter)
Outlook: “We are very excited for this season. We have a deep senior class and exciting contributors from the sophomore and junior classes and we expect to be a very competitive team with hopes of a deep playoff run,” coach Scheide said. “That being said, we know we have quality opponents ahead of us and will have to bring our best to each game this season.”
Head coach: Michelle Watson (first year)
Top returning players: Kaylee Morales, Sr. (Setter); Amaya Story, Sr. (Libero)
Key new players: “Lots of new players, but none key at this point. This is still to be determined,” coach Watson said.
Outlook: “Looking to continue the momentum from the previous season, coming off our first, first round playoff win during the 2019 season,” Watson said. “Our new players show promise, but there is still lots of work to be done to get them ready. Looking to have fun.”
Head coach: Barb Matthews (first year)
Top returning players: Morgan Buckland, Sr.; Maddie Conrad, Sr.; Gabriella Gast, Sr.; Tonya Marks, Sr.; Sierra Pappas, Sr.; Alayna Sheahy, Sr.
Key new players: Isabella Singh, Jr. (Setter); Hannah Dudeck, Jr. (Outside hitter); Stephanie Erisman, Jr. (Middle blocker)
Outlook: “Looking forward to a successful season. The girls have worked hard and are so excited to have a season,” coach Matthews said. “We have a lot of talent and are hoping to show this on the court.”
Head coach: Brandon Jones (first year)
Top returning players: Cailey Jones, Sr. (Outside hitter); Abby McDowell, Sr. (Libero/Setter)
Key new players: Ella Laurentius, Jr. (Outside hitter); Brenna Boone, Jr. (Middle blocker); Julia Shrewsberry, So. (Middle blocker); Jeana Harrison, So. (Right Side hitter); Josie Otremba, Jr. (Outside hitter/DS); Ava Shores, So. (Libero)
Outlook: “While this group may be young, don’t count them out ... this team has grit. They are willing to put in the work and expect to see the results of that effort throughout the season,“ coach Jones said. “As this team develops, bonds and begins to gel, anything is possible. I can already tell you they have their eye on the prize. Expect an exciting season.”