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First Serves Ready For “Big-11” Volleyball Season

Lord Botetourt returns all but one player from a 2017 squad that went 31-0 and won the Class 3 state championship.

Serve, receive, set and kill.

The 2018 high school volleyball season is ready for the first ball to go over the net and as in previous years, some of the top volleyball talent and runs to state championships will go right through the Roanoke Valley and our own “Big-11” squads.

One big change to watch for this year will be the new coaching faces on the sideline, where five of the eleven “Big-11” coaches make their debut. Those include Maggie Newman at Patrick Henry, Amanda Hristov at Salem, Greg Hetherington at Northside, Melissa Horan at Roanoke Catholic and Kylee Beecher at Cave Spring.

A lot of eyes throughout the River Ridge District and Class 3, will be on Beecher, the former volleyball and basketball player at rival Hidden Valley, and basketball standout at Liberty University, who will be looking to bring back the perennial volleyball powerhouse at Cave Spring that was routine under 5-time state championship coach Tamalyn Tanis, who retired in 2015. The Knights finished 7-17 last year and did not qualify for the regional playoffs.

Southwest Roanoke County won’t have to look far for another perennial powerhouse, as head coach Carla Ponn returns with over 400 career wins under her belt and another team of talented players that Titan fans have come to expect. Hidden Valley advanced to the Class 3 state semifinal in 2017.

But, the top of the pack in Class 3 may once again be found in Daleville, where Lord Botetourt returns all but one player from a squad that ran the table on their way to a 31-0 record and Class 3 state championship in 2017, the first in Cavalier history. Head coach Julie Conner has a team with so much offensive power and equally impressive defense, spectators can expect 3-0 sweeps to be the norm for the Cavs.

In the private school sector, both North Cross and Roanoke Catholic come off winning seasons in 2017, and both could easily make moves by season end in the VIS playoffs.

In Class 5, Patrick Henry returns several players from a 15-12 team that advanced in the tough Region 5D before losing in the semifinal round. William Fleming looks to improve after winning only two matches last year.

Salem and William Byrd (Class 4) hovered around .500 last year before the Spartans bowed out in the Region 4D first round, finishing 10-10, with Byrd likewise eliminated in the first round at 9-13.

Northside will come off a 15-11 record and first round loss in Region 3D, while Glenvar looks to get back over .500 after a 11-12 record and second round loss in Region 2C.

All roads lead to the November finals at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond.

Bill Turner

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