Volleyball Looks Ready To Roll
By Brian Pitts
Davie Enterprise Record
After going a less-than-stellar 11-10 and 12-13 the past two years, 2014 could be as good of a volleyball season as Davie’s had in a while.
Becky Miller, the 10th-year coach, is intent on making ’14 and ’15 seasons to remember as 11 of 14 players on the roster are juniors.
“This is the third year for most of the girls on varsity, and you can really tell it,” said Miller, who is 119-103 overall and 53-43 in the Central Piedmont Conference over nine years. “There’s a lot of experience out there. We have good leadership from our two seniors (Reyanne Wilkie and Payton Beaty), and the girls get along so well. They mesh well together. They’re all friends and that’s half the battle when you’re trying to put a team together. And we’ve got a bunch of talent, too.”
Last fall the War Eagles suffered the first losing record in four years. They went 6-6 in the CPC to finish fourth out of seven. Mt. Tabor and Reagan shared the regular-season title with 11-1 marks. West Forsyth was 7-5, followed by Davie (6-6), North Davidson (3-9), Reynolds (2-10) and Parkland (0-12). Davie has been an also-ran in the CPC the last five years, finishing fifth, fourth, third, fourth and fourth.
But the War Eagles look ready to roll come Aug. 18, when they open the season at Alexander Central. And they should have serious title aspirations in ’15, when most of the team will be seniors.
“One of the things our new (jayvee) coach (Amber Brandon) observed is we’re not going to be weak on any rotation as far as hitters,” Miller said. “We’re not giants, but we do have some strong hitters all the way around our rotations.”
The 11 juniors are Morgan Sessoms, Ruby Dennard, Hadley Hilton, Emily Ruble, Julia Grachen, Allie Cunningham, Abby Kerr, Summer Bivins, Hannah Dove, Emmie Tkach and Morgan Taylor. Taylor Walton is a sophomore.
Here’s Miller’s take on each player:
• Sessoms, a middle blocker: “She can hit the ball hard. She is very talented defensively, and she comes into the season with a lot of confidence.”
• Dennard, an outside hitter: “She is playing with confidence.”
• Hilton, an outside hitter: “Hadley hits the ball really well, and her defense has come a long way.”
• Ruble: “Emily is versatile. She can play outside, she can play right side and she’s one of the best defensive players we have. She passes the ball as well as any of our smaller girls who are defensive specialists.”
• Wilkie, Beaty, Grachen and Cunningham are back-row players. “I really like where our four defensive players are. Those girls are going to be able to take care of the back row for us. They are strong this year. They have nice passing skills.”
• Kerr and Bivins are middles. “There is a world of difference in their playing ability this year. They will probably share that role. The good thing is they’re battling for that middle position and it’s making both of them better. Abby is much stronger than she was in past years. She is growing into her body. Summer is quick. She’s got one of the quickest arms I’ve ever seen, and she gets the ball down quick.”
• Dove plays right side. “Oh my gosh, she can hit the ball hard. She’s really strong.”
• Tkach and Taylor are the setters. “They have improved so much. Every time we walk in the gym, they get better.”
• Walton is the only sophomore on the team. “She has proved herself. Oh my goodness, she can hit. She’s right there with all the other outside hitters. She can play right side, and she could even play middle if we need her to. She’s a versatile player, she’s strong and she can serve well. All around her skills are great. So there was no choice but to go ahead and move her up and let her show what she can do.”
Brandon has replaced Heather McEwen, Miller’s daughter, as jayvee coach. McEwen guided the jayvee the past two years.
A 2014 East Carolina graduate, Brandon is a new biology teacher at Davie.
“She knows a lot about volleyball,” Miller said. “She has had good coaching in the past, and she’s bringing a lot of experience to us. She coached some JO teams while she was in college. She is doing a great job with the girls.”