All-TL volleyball squad lauds area spikers

MARTINS FERRY — There were superlatives abound this fall when it came to area prep volleyball.

Two of the best stories, however, came out of Shadyside and Morristown, where a pair of teams crafted historic runs.

The Lady Tigers, fresh of a sensational performance in 2018, continued to reach new frontiers as a program, one that born in 2012. Shadyside won its first 21 matches en route to a 24-2 finish under first-year head coach Eric Mercer, before falling to eventually Elite 8 squad Shenandoah in the district title tilt.

Meanwhile, at Union Local, veteran coach Kaye Sechrest saw her young squad start strong out of the gate, too — winning its first 19 matches before falling in the OVAC semifinals.

For their efforts, Mercer and Sechrest have been named Co-Coaches of the Year on the annual All-Times Leader Volleyball Team, which features 15 players from 13 schools.

Casey Kildow, the junior stalwart from Union Local, captains the unit.

Following are capsules on the players and coaches on this year’s squad:

CASEY KILDOW, Union Local — The captain of the Jets, Kildow was the centerpiece of the talented UL squad.

“Casey is a student of the game and sees the floor well,” Sechrest said. “She is also observant about opposing teams’ and players’ tendencies.”

Kildow, a junior, recorded 185 kills, 98 aces and posted a 98.3 serving percentage. She also had 253 digs, 406 assists and a serve-reception percentage of 91.4.

“She is always willing to help her teammates,” Sechrest said. “She is a versatile players and competitor.”

ASHLIE LOUDEN, Beallsville — A four-year starter and team captain, Louden posted 257 assists and 98 assists this fall as the Blue Devils reached the OVAC Class A tournament.

“She was very instrumental in our success this season,” Beallsville head coach Jeff Fluharty said. “She could play any position. She is one of the best athletes I’ve coached. She was a great team leader.”

Louden also had 57 aces.

RYLEE STEPHENS, Barnesville — A junior, Stephens played in 78 sets this fall as the Shamrocks played under the guidance of first-year head coach Kimberly Jarrett.

Stephens recorded 156 kills, 51 aces and155 points. She also collected 66 blocks, 29 digs and 18 assists.

Rylee led our team in kills, points, aces and blocks this season,” Jarrett said. “She is a leader on and off the court.

“She is a two-year letterwinner and I’m looking forward to another year coaching her.”

TENLEY HUGHES, Bellaire — Hughes, a senior had 120 kills and 154 digs this fall for the rebuilding Big Reds.

“Tenley is our quiet leader,” Bellaire head coach Erica Miller said. “She’s a very intelligent player and knows how to find the open shots.”

Hughes also contributed 55 blocks and 40 aces.

“She leads by example and is an excellent role model for our younger players,” Miller said.

DANIELLE BRADAC, Bridgeport — This senior was a key contributor for the Bulldogs and head coach Kristin Mazgaj.

Bradac led the team in kills (97), aces (53) and blocks (65). She also had 120 digs and 22 assists during the season.

“Danielle had another strong season, leading us in nearly every statistical category,” Mazgaj said. “She’s been a very solid player and contributor for us and we’ll definitely miss her next season.”

JENNA MacALISTER, Buckeye Local — Head Coach Lucas Fabry depended on MacAlister quite a bit this fall and it showed by the numbers on her stat sheet.

MacAlister finished the season with 289 assists, 126 digs, 21 aces and 14 kills.

LEXI FERGUSON, Harrison Central — Ferguson finished her junior campaign with 437 assists.

“She is an all-around player and a wonderful student-athlete to be around. She’s worked hard to get her playing to where it is today,” Huskies head coach Sarah Hawthorne said.

“As a junior, we’re looking for bog things from her next season.”

Ferguson also had 212 digs and a serving percentage of 95.4, along with 47 kills and 13 blocks.

AVA DOYLE, Martins Ferry — Doyle was a steady for a Purple Riders’ squad that continued to mature this fall.

The junior compiled 38 aces and 115 points, while also throwing down 132 kills.

“Ava is an all-around athletic player,” first-year Martins Ferry head coach Jennifer Olson said. “She is a great leader on the court and in the classroom, while taking all honors and advanced honors classes.”

Doyle also registered 294 digs, 50 solo blocks and 45 block assists.

AMY BETTINGER, Monroe Central — A senior and two-time letterwinner, Bettinger led the Seminoles in blocks (49) and kills (161) this fall.

“Amy was a consistent presence for us at the net all season,” Monroe Central head coach Troy Baker said. “She really improved on seeing the floor and hitting the ball to open spots.

“She was also able to slow down other team’s best hitters with her blocking ability and defense.”

Bettinger also scored 140 points and served at 93 percent.

ALLISON BENNETT, River — Bennett has been a mainstay in the Pilots’ recent run of spiking success.

A setter for four years, the co-captain had 474 assists this fall, finishing her career with 2,002.

Bennett also posted a 96 serving percentage.

“She led the team in serving and assists,” River head coach Judi Curtis said. “And, she was a leader and loved the game, which showed throughout the years.”

PAIGE SEFSICK, St. Clairsville — A four-year letterwinner, Sefsick has been an anchor for the Red Devils’ string of success her entire career.

“She has been a player who has been vital each season,” St. Clairsville head coach Christa Truchan said. “Her defense and hitting has improved this season to become even more accurate.”

Sefsick posted a 90.2 serve percentage, with 47 aces. She registered 255 digs and 169 kills.

“She stepped up her game to almost double her kills rom last year,” Truchan pointed out. “There will be a large vacancy to fill next year because of her consistency, leadership, coachability and effectiveness.”

ELIZABETH SCHNEGG, St. John Central Academy — In 15 matches this fall, Schnegg, a junior, posted 117 digs and had a serve reception percentage of 72.

“Elizabeth is an awesome all-around player for our tea,” Irish head coach Lisa Schlanz said. “She has such an enthusiasm for this sport. She works very hard and is a total team player. She had to transition from libero to an all-around player due to injuries on the team in the second-half of the season.

“She didn’t hesitate to step it up.”

RILEY BROWN, Shadyside — Brown, a senior, was one of the vocal leaders for the Lady Tigers, and made her presence felt immensely throughout the team’s run.

“Riley is a vocal leader on and off the court,” Mercer said. “She was our kill leader and was second in aces and blocks.

“Riley has tremendous court vision, great knowledge of the game, and always gives her all. Nobody wants to win more than Riley.”

Brown finished with 193 kills, 58 aces, 33 blocks and 29 digs.

MADISON DAVIS, Shadyside — Another senior, Davis was the key assist maker for Shadyside, dishing out 619 of them during its remarkable 2019 campaign.

“Madison lets her game speak for itself,” Mercer said. “She efficiently runs our offense and is our most consistent server; leading the team in aces (60), serve percentage (93.6) and assists. She brings physical and mental toughness to the court and a ‘never quit’ attitude to the setting position.”

TORRE KILDOW, Union Local — A freshman, Kildow played an integral role in the Jets’ success.

She posted 318 kills and 47 aces, along with an 88.8 serving percentage. She also had 21 blocks, 236 digs and 288 assists.

“She stepped up as a freshman,” Sechrest said. “She led us in kills and was second in blocks, digs and assists. She has no fear and loves to hit the ball hard.

“Torre brings positivity, energy and a desire to win.”

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ERIC MERCER, Shadyside — Mercer, in his first season, guided the Lady Tigers to their best campaign in school history. He formerly coached at East Richland Christian.

“There are many great coaches in our area, and I’m thankful to be able to be able to serve my community in this way,” he said.

“Thanks to the school administration and board of education for allowing me to be part of this volleyball program and to my players for making it such a memorable season.”

KAYE SECHREST, Union Local — Sechrest directed the Jets to victories in their first 19 matches en route to the top seed in the OVAC Class 3A.

It’s an honor to be selected as Co-Coach of the Year with Eric,” Sechrest said. “As I have said all season, it is the girls who play and win matches. I have a wonderful group of young women who work well together.”

Sechrest pointed to her assistant coaches as key ingredients on UL’s success.

“I have a great staff with Julie Kildow, Karen Gress and Eileen Morgan and, without them, we would not have had such a successful season,” she said. “In addition, we have a very supportive administration, parents and family and fans.”