A Different Preseason Feel
By Shayne Combs, admin1@svcsportszone.com
Wide-open…balanced…parity...when was the last time these words were thrown around an SVC
volleyball preview. Saturday night at Southeastern High School, I talked to several fans, coaches, and
even players, and these words seemed to be the common theme when describing what to expect in 2012.
With Adena’s roster taking on a different look for a lot of different reasons, many people feel that the
league will be a little less predictable than in year’s past.
(I am not going to get into these reasons
and give my reaction in this article; however, it will be discussed on this week’s podcast show. The
show will be ready for listen Tuesday morning. Click here, scroll down, and enter your email address to
subscribe to the show. This is completely free to fans and is another great way for SVCsportszone.com
to promote SVC sports.)

My opinion from the preview probably does not go to the extreme of counting out Adena just yet. Do I
think Adena is as good as most Adena teams in the past two decades? No. Do I think the gap in terms of
talent and athleticism between Adena and the rest of the league is smaller than in years past? Yes. Do I
still think this Adena squad is good? Absolutely.

I think several teams have closed the gap. Adena does lack height, depth, and athleticism in comparison
to other title contenders; however, the Lady Warriors were still the most fundamental team and ran the
quickest offense I saw all night. I do think we could have more parity in the league this year, but I have
always approached SVC volleyball as Adena being the favorite until someone beats them.

We all know about the streaks and the overall dynasty run that the Adena volleyball has developed in the
last two decades. In case you are unaware, here are some numbers: 98 straight SVC wins…142 straight
home wins…21 of the last 22 SVC titles including seven straight gold balls. Since starting this website in
2008, I have usually tried to ask myself if Adena could lose a set, and now we have reached a year where
SVC volleyball does appear to be more wide-open than ever.

With my love for sports and my coaching background, I have also looked at judging a team for who they
are rather than dwell on what they are not. The 2012 Lady Warriors are led by four-year starter Jenny
Grigsby. Grigsby enters her senior year as one of the league’s most efficient players, and she is
looking to finish off a career that has included a lot of winning. Coach Laura Smith will also look to hitters
Bridgette Scaggs and Alyssa Kennedy to provide balance in the Adena attack. I believe Adena will serve
tough, play incredible defense, and come at opponents with a quick attack. My biggest concern is just the
difference in talent this year. Will they have enough of an attack to offset some of the big, athletic front
rows in this year’s SVC? I remember so many times in the past few years where Cadie Cory or
Olivia Arledge made special plays at special times, and Adena is going to have to find other ways to
continue this incredible run in 2012.

Coach Tina Magill’s Huntington squad should definitely be a factor in this year’s race. As I
mentioned in a response to an inbox question during the summer, Huntington is as talented as any team in
half its rotation. Jackie Kellough is a POY candidate. Alayna Lytle is by far the best defensive player in
the league, and Halie Ingram returns at setter after quarterbacking the Lady Huntsmen to the regional
tournament a year ago. My biggest question marks with Huntington are in filling out the remainder of the
rotation. Losing Zoey Zickafoose to graduation leaves a big hole in the middle. Layne Beasley has proven
in multiple sports to be one of the league’s best athletes and Dylana Gragg enters the program as a
freshman as one of the league’s top newcomers. Huntington is going to need some consistent play
from the entire lineup. I do believe Beasley and Gragg are capable of becoming elite hitters and Carlie
Long is a solid defensive player, but it is going to have to happen consistently. In order to win a
championship, the Lady Huntsmen must find a way to not play up and down to their competition. They
have to be able to play at a high level regardless the opponent.

The Lady Bearcats welcome a new coach in 2012. Unioto and Rio Grande grad Jacquie Whittle is now
leading a Paint Valley team that has a lot of varsity experience. Junior Taylor Baker, who has been an all-
league honorable mention selection the last two years, returns as a leader of a fairly athletic roster. If you
are a fan of SVC sports, you will see several names when looking up and down this roster who have
proven to be great athletes in a variety of sports, but it just hasn’t translated to volleyball to this point.
The Bearcats are hoping Whittle will bring a fresh start to the volleyball program as they try to close the
gap on a few teams in the SVC standings.

The team who defeated PV in a pair of five-set thrillers a year ago to finish a spot above the Bearcats in
the final standings is the Piketon Lady Redstreaks. Piketon is led by returning all-league selection Aleah
Pelphrey. Pelphrey is joined by K.K. Jenkins, another all-league honorable mention selection from a year
ago, as this junior duo hopes to provide Piketon the necessary weapons in this year’s offensive
attack. Like PV, Piketon is another team that contains some solid athletes and they too are hoping 2012
will see the Redstreaks close the gap on a few teams in front of them.

Southeastern returns an all-league player Maddie Arledge as well as an honorable mention selection in
Morgan Jones. The Lady Panthers found themselves knocking on the door of so many upsets a year ago,
but they never were really able to get over the hump. Southeastern has some nice young talent with Emily
Dresbach and Logan Goebel, and the Lady Panthers have a rotation with several tough servers as they
look to finish some of last year’s near misses to become a member of the league’s top half.

Unioto was hit extremely hard by graduation and other circumstances that now have head coach Aaron
Ridenour looking at a roster with no seniors and a bunch of sophomores. The good news is those
sophomores are really talented. Alexis Overly leads a rotation that contains kids that have won at all levels
on the way up through the program. My biggest concern for this team is finding that go-to hitter. On a
positive note, even though the roster does have a lot of youth Emily Ward, Halle White, Taylor Overly,
and Karee Neff all had some sort of varsity experience last year.

Many are calling Westfall the team to beat, and I definitely agree that they deserve this type of attention.
The Lady Mustangs are led by POY candidate Olivia Cobb. Cobb, who can impact a match with both
her power at the net as well as her great hands as a setter, will look for help from a pair of young hitters in
sophomore Amanda Curry and freshman Hannah Phillips. My biggest concern for Westfall comes in the
back row. A big key to this team will be Kayla Tackett. Tackett is a great three-sport athlete who plays
extremely hard. Westfall suffered a major injury early in 2011 that I believe really set them back quite a
bit. If Westfall can stay healthy and pass with consistency, I see no reason why they can’t contend for
a league title.

The team that nobody is talking about, and to be honest I can’t figure out why, is Zane Trace. I know
head coach Lori Merriman (who can be heard on this week’s podcast show – our first show of our
second season) probably likes her Lady Pioneers flying under the radar and would prefer that I not
mention that this team now has four players back mentioned on last year’s all-league squad. Hayley
Carle, Delaney Spetnagel, Jillian Pontius, and Kylan Strausbaugh anchor a rotation that is extremely
talented and athletic, but they too must figure out a way to become more consistent in terms of back row

It will not take long to figure out because Adena/Westfall, Adena/Huntington, Zane Trace/Westfall, and
Unioto/Zane Trace all play within the first eight days of league play. Make sure to check out the
Health Chiropractic Center SVC Volleyball Scoreboard
throughout the season for all the scores and

Another reminder…click here to subscribe to our podcast show. Again, it’s completely free to all fans.
We will be doing 10 fall shows, 10 winter shows, and 10 spring shows. Our second season will have our first
fall show ready for listen Tuesday morning.

Also, you will notice on Football Friday nights that I am using our new Shoutomatic feature to give up-to-
the-minute updates. Volleyball fans will want to click here and bookmark this page for volleyball updates
every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the season as well.
Pictures by Tracy Carle