by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
Despite losing five seniors from last year’s team, coach Keegan Walters has high hopes for the Lancaster High School varsity Lady Devils volleyball team.
“We have the potential to be even better than last year due to the experience of this group,” said Walters, who enters his second season as the varsity head coach.
Although Walter’s squad isn’t upperclassmen heavy—he has only three seniors—most are veterans of the game. All five juniors are returners. One started last year and all of them got considerable playing time.
“I think we have a chance to compete with anyone this year,” said Walters. “And our girls are hungry to improve on last season.”
They proved that in Monday night’s season opener against Middlesex. The Lady Chargers, who are unbeaten at 3-0, edged the Lady Devils, 3-1, but not without a challenge.
After losing the two first games, Lancaster battled back for a win in the third then lost buy three, 25-22, in the fourth of the best out of five series.
Lancaster split with Class 3 Gloucester, 2-2, in a pre-season scrimmage two weeks ago.
“We’re trying to play smart volleyball this season, while minimizing mistakes,” said Walters.
Leadership this year comes from three seniors in all-around player Maddie Davis, libero McKenzie Hathaway and defensive specialist Rachel Valdrighi.
Davis served for 21 points with three aces against Middlesex, while Valdrighi had 11 serves with no errors. Hathaway had five digs.
Lancaster also returns junior setter Riley Molineaux and junior hitters Sydney Price and Leighten McCranie. Also back is junior defensive specialists Rachel Woolard and Courtney Croasdale.
Sophomores Katherine Thomas and Madison Giese are new to the team after playing junior varsity for two seasons. Thomas is a defensive specialist and Giese an outside hitter. Freshman Shelby Rose is a middle hitter who made the jump from last year’s middle school team right to varsity.
Price had seven serves with two aces and two block assists against Middlesex, while Molineaux had 13 assists and Thomas three digs. At the net, McCranie and Rose each had a solo block.
The JV Lady Devils also lost their season opener to Middlesex Monday. The Lady Chargers won, 2-0.
LHS JROTC instructor William French will assist Walters as the JV coach this season. He returns several to the junior varsity squad including experienced sophomores Blair Smith, Amanda Steensma, Katarina Zeiler, McKenna Jones, Grace Oren and Olivia Brocklebank. Smith will serve as libero and rotate in and out freely on the back row, while Oren and Brocklebank are defensive specialists on the back row. Jones will set and play the back row, while Steensma and Zeiler will lead the team at the net as hitters.
Freshmen Kayleigh Self and Rachel Taft will both serve as setters and hitters, while freshman Liz Woolard will hit. Freshman Olivia Saunders will play all around and freshman Carissa Davis will play the back row on defense.
Sept. 5 West Point
Sept. 11 Northampton
Sept. 12 at Northampton
Sept. 15 Endless Summer
Tournament, Virginia Beach
Sep. 17 Middlesex
Sept. 18 at Colonial Beach
Sept. 20 at Essex
Sept. 25 at Washington & Lee
Sept. 27 Rappahannock
Oct.1 at King & Queen
Oct. 2 at Northumberland
Oct. 4 Colonial Beach
Oct. 9 Essex
Oct. 11 Washington & Lee
Oct.16 at Rappahannock
Oct. 18 Northumberland