By Shayne Combs, admin1@svcsportszone.com
Please note that the following is the opinion of
SVCsportszone.com and in no way is based on the
opinions of the coaches. The official list for All-SVC
will be released later this week, but while we wait,
here is a look at the way I would select the individuals
in this year’s volleyball league.

My Philosophy

Picking my all-league volleyball team is one of the most
enjoyable articles to write each year. Volleyball in the
SVC is fun to watch. You stay east of Cincinnati and
south of Columbus, and SVC volleyball is as good as it
gets in terms of quality of players and teams.

In selecting all-league, I have always tried to stay
consistent in my philosophies. I do think team success
plays a role in selections; however, I do not believe it
should make for an automatic ranking idea. I believe
team success plays a bigger role later in the selections
rather than earlier when looking for the elite talents.
Secondly, I think a player asked to play all-the-way-
around compared to just the front or back row should
be viewed as a little more valuable, but at the same
time, all selections in all sports will have room for some
specialty players.

My Team

In selecting Coach of the Year, I will have to go with
Zane Trace’s
Lori Merriman. When leaving the
preview earlier this fall, I thought ZT was much
improved, but I still thought they were a year away. I
felt they would battle Unioto for the four spot, and they
have obviously proven to be much better than that
winning the league. Other coaches have done great jobs
this year. Multiple coaches have dealt with injuries,
youth, and inconsistencies, but if I am being honest, the
Coach of the Year is one of the easier decisions I had to
make when figuring my SVCsportszone.com all-league
volleyball squad.

In starting the team, the Player of the Year vote is
probably the toughest decision that any sport has faced
in recent history. I have three kids on my radar, and as
I have stated on our podcast show –
Triple Crown
Family Fun Center SVC Sports Talk – all of them
have plenty of reasons to win the award.

I have never been a big fan of having a Co-Player of
the Year, but if ever there was a year to have a share, it
would be this year. I am going to give the individual
honor to both Huntington’s
Jackie Kellough and
Olivia Cobb. This will put Zane Traceâ
Hayley Carle in the third spot.

Kellough and Cobb have both been tremendous this
year. They both impact a match in so many ways and
despite defenses attempting anything and everything to
stop them, the senior duo always seemed capable of
stuffing the stat sheet. Kellough led the league in kills
with 6.4 per set while Cobb was second at 4.6. Cobb
also was in the top-10 in assists while Kellough led the
league in aces. As for Carle, the junior had impressive
stats as well; however, many feel that her intangibles
that she brought to her championship squad such as
leadership, attitude, and “coach-ability� combined
with her incredible talent make her a part of this POY

Joining our top trio on first team is Unioto’s
. As a sophomore, Overly was asked to shoulder
a great deal for Unioto. Overly stuffed the stat sheet
with kills, assists, digs, and aces as she ranked in the
top-10 of both kills and assists in the SVC. Next player
Jenny Grigsby. The Adena senior was put in a tough
situation this year, and as I expected she handled it with
total class from start to finish. Grigsby has never been a
take-the-match-over type of player, but as the year
went on I saw several nights where she was the
difference. Some nights it was with her efficient hitting
and serving, or a great example would be her 30 digs in
a four set win against Huntington.

Continuing on my first team, I give the next spot to the
league’s best all-around setter in Huntington’s
Halie Ingram. Ingram posted incredible numbers in
2012. The junior posted a league-best average of 9.6
assists per game. I believe Ingram is one of the leagueâ
€™s most underappreciated talents. Ingram is a great
athlete with great hands and always seems to put the
ball in the perfect spot. Rounding out my first team, my
Defensive Specialist of the Year is also a shared honor
with a Huntington and Westfall duo.
Alayna Lytle of
Huntington and Westfall’s
Kayla Tackett should
share the honor in my opinion. Lytle is a game-changer.
Her effort and her instincts in the back row are just a
few of the many things that make her so good. Lytle
also averages about an ace per set – a number that
has her in the top-five of the SVC in that category as
well. As for Tackett, her energy and enthusiasm are
very similar to Lytle. Perhaps Lytle is a little smoother
in terms of passing, but Tackett’s leadership skills
are incredible. Tackett led the SVC in digs at 6.1 per
set. Both of these kids were complemented by solid
passers in
Carlie Long and Sara Link, but they were
also playing without some big blocks in front of them
with Huntington’s graduation to
Zoey Zickafoose
and the season-ending injury of Westfall’s

Due to my tie at the end of the first team (meaning eight
on first team), I will have only six spots on my second
team. I start my second team with a pair of teammates
from the championship ZT squad –
and Kylan Strausbaugh. You may be
asking how the outright champions get only one on first
team, and that would be a legitimate question. I feel I
represent the champions quite well giving them three of
the top-10 players, and you will see as I move through
the article, the respect I have for their depth of talent.
Both Spetnagel and Strausbaugh are elite hitters and
passers in this year’s league and both are huge
pieces to the Zane Trace championship puzzle in 2012.

For the third spot on my second team, I return to the
setter position with Adena’s
Kirsten Dawson.
Dawson’s 8.6 assists per set was second only to
Ingram in the SVC. When you combine the importance
of the setter position with Dawson being a 5-1 setter
posting such a high number of assists, I could not see
moving her down the list any deeper.

At this point, I started having trouble ranking the players
within their own teams. With Unioto, I had to compare
several players such as
Karee Neff, Taylor Overly,
Emily Ward and even some half-rotation players such
Makenna Steinbrook and Halle White. For
Southeastern, I couldn’t guarantee I was going to
have room for more than one, so
Morgan Jones,
Maddie Arledge, and Emily Dresbach were hard to

After studying the Unioto stat sheet and thinking back
to the four times I have seen Unioto this season, I will
give the next spot to
Karee Neff. Neff has one of the
league’s toughest serves at nearly an ace per set and
has continued to do a nice job in the back row for
Unioto. She has also taken on an increased roll in the
front row including hitting from various spots depending
on the rotation. The next spot goes to Southeastern, and
I will give the nod to
Morgan Jones. I know I
contradict myself here a little in terms of all-around
play, but I do feel Jones in the middle is a major factor
in SVC matches. Jones proved to be one of the leagueâ
€™s best players at the net in terms of kills and blocks.
Alyssa Kennedy is next on the list. The Adena middle-
hitter spent most of the year in the top five of the league
in kills at 3.2 per game. I know many may argue that
perhaps she is too low. As I stated in my philosophy,
perhaps I cheat players who only play the front row or
a defensive spot, but I have always felt the all-around
hitter/passer/server or the 5-1 setter deserves to be a
little bit higher.

On my third team, I start with the SVC champions. It is
nearly impossible for me to decide between ZT’s
Jillian Pontius and Karah Tillis. Both shared the 6-2
setting responsibilities, and their similar setting stats in
2012 served as a great example of the great balance of
Zane Trace. It seems almost unfair to put one on and
leave the other off, but if I had to pick one, I would
probably give the slight nod to
Pontius based on a few
extra rotation spots she was asked to play in certain
matches late in the year. To be honest, my philosophy
of taking players who play all the way around had me
Alyx Chaffin, but I still feel the setter position
is too valuable not to honor the setter(s) off a
championship team. A team simply cannot be a good
team if they do not have a solid setter. If you do not
believe me, watch the postseason from the district finals
all the way to the state championship and tell me how
many bad setters you see.

Next up, I return to the libero position in Unioto’s
Emily Ward. In watching Unioto or breaking down the
stat sheet, Ward is asked to do a lot in terms of serve
receive as well as defensively. The sophomore has
taken half of the serves from Unioto’s opponents
(nearly 400 more than any other teammate) and has
committed an error only seven-percent of the time.
Ward is in the top-10 of digs in the league at four per
game, and she also is in the top-10 of aces.

The next two spots go to a pair of rookies in
Dylana Gragg and Westfall’s
Hannah Phillips. Both have been in the top-10 of kills
the majority of the year. These two were the two most
highly touted newcomers this year, and both have been
really good for title contending teams.

This is where you get to the same debate question every
year. Should every school have representation on the all-
league team? I have always had the belief that it is not
an automatic assumption.

Before naming the final three, let me explain my
thought process at this point. In the final three spots,
Piketon and Paint Valley will push for a spot, and the
other schools will all make an argument for one more
player. Piketon’s
Aleah Pelphrey is a solid player,
and Paint Valley honestly has about five or six girls
Bales, Baker, Stout, Lott, and Davis all either led the
Lady Cats in a statistical category or posted a balance as
an all-around player) that could make a case for PVâ
€™s top spot. Southeastern has two more players –
Emily Dresbach and Maddie Arledge – mentioned
earlier who deserve a look. Westfall –being outright
second place - probably would like to have a fourth
such as
Sara Link. Perhaps the two-shade blue would
want a spot for
Karli Bower or Bridgette Scaggs. Even
a balanced team like Unioto would bring up
, and obviously ZT has the title of champion
which puts Alyx Chaffin and Karah Tillis in the

For my final three spots, I will go
Pelphrey for sure.
Pelphrey is without question one of the top-21 players
in the league, so this pick is impossible to debate. Then,
I will give the slight advantage to
Link. With Westfall
finishing outright second – seven games ahead of
Southeastern – it is hard for me to pull the trigger on
a second Lady Panther. I think
Dresbach is a very
talented all-around player, but others would probably
Arledge or even Logan Goebel would be in the
discussion. When I combine how hard it is to even sort
out SE and then look at Link’s key role in Westfallâ
€™s season, I think WF getting a fourth to match
Huntington on my list is the proper call.

In my final spot, I looked hard again at giving SE a
second, PV representation (again, too many similar
players to pick just one), and even Adena or Unioto a
fourth, but I will stay consistent in my philosophy and
Alyx Chaffin. All year long, I felt ZT’s
balance was the key to its championship run, so giving
them this final spot does a good job of illustrating this
point. Chaffin is in the top-five of the SVC in blocks
with nearly one per set, and her kills and digs are very
respectable when you consider she is a number-four
option on a championship team.

Looking through the article, I tried to “think aloudâ
€� to show my honorable mentions. These are the kids
that were in the discussion, but they just didn’t
quite find their way onto this year’s selections.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know! You can email the
website at admin1@svcsportszone.com or call 740-569-
3254 and have your opinions heard on our podcast

Jackie Kellough & Olivia Cobb (Co-POY)
Hayley Carle
Alexis Overly
Jenny Grigsby
Halie Ingram
Alyana Lytle & Kayla Tackett (Co-DS)

Delaney Spetnagel
Kylan Strausbaugh
Kirsten Dawson
Karee Neff
Morgan Jones
Alyssa Kennedy

Jillian Pontius
Emily Ward
Dylana Gragg
Hannah Phillips
Aleah Pelphrey
Sara Link
Alyx Chaffin