NSA volleyball seeks to remain elite
Published 8:08 pm Saturday, August 23, 2014
How do you follow up one of the most dominant girls’ volleyball seasons ever? How do you replace a first team all-state selection who graduated? Nansemond-Suffolk Academy coach Robyn Ross faces these big questions entering the 2014 season, but she is hardly daunted by them.
The Lady Saints have many returners, but three starters are gone, including outside hitter Kaylor Nash, who was a first team all-state selection the last three years and earned the Player of the Year honor at the state level in 2012 and in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools in 2012 and 2013. Nevertheless, Ross’ expectations for her players are not going to change, regardless of who they are.
“My expectation for them is always to execute what they’ve been taught to do and when they do that, they win,” she said, later adding, “We’ll play great teams, and we should still be able to beat these great teams if we do what we’re supposed to do.”
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Nansemond-Suffolk had an amazing run last year, winning the state championship as well as the conference regular season and tournament titles. It went 36-2 overall, ending the year on a 31-match win streak that included a 30-match stretch in which the team never dropped a game.
When asked how to replace Nash, Ross said, “The answer is that you don’t. It is just the same as when somebody great in the pros retires or moves on. The team can still be great, it’s just a different team, there’s different girls that are in the leadership roles now.”
Middle blocker Caylin Harris and setter Brooks Gillerlain, both first team all-state selections last year, are returning for their senior seasons.
“I like to run a fast offense, and so our middles are going to be crucial to that, both Lizzy (Fowler) and Caylin,” Ross said.
Also back is senior and 2013 all-state second teamer Bridget Murphy at libero.
Starting outside hitter Brianna Rowe graduated along with Nash, and starting outside hitter Kaitlin Werner will not be returning, but three sophomores are vying for their spots in the lineup.
Livi Bono did not get much playing time behind Nash, but Ross said, “I think people are going to be really surprised at what that kid can do.”
Logan Harrell played a lot last year in certain positions, but now she is competing to go all the way around.
Lindsay Knierbein is the third sophomore outside hitter in contention to start. Ross said, “She has worked really hard over the summer and is exciting to watch.”
The coach said the desire is there on the 2014 roster to keep NSA among the elite teams in the state.
“It’s huge to lose Kaylor, but there are girls that are wanting to step up to that challenge to show people that we were more than just a one-man team,” Ross said.
The Lady Saints’ regular season schedule begins on Tuesday at Hampton Roads Academy.