The 2016 high school girls volleyball season gets under way on Monday. Here is a look at some of the Midstate area’s top teams, players and story lines heading into 2016.
Contenders: Concord Christian, South Greene
Contenders: Knoxville Catholic, Sullivan South
Contenders: Farragut, Franklin
Favorite: Knoxville Webb
Contender: Harding Academy
Contenders: Baylor, Harpeth Hall
10 PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Lauren Bars, Harpeth Hall, Sr.: The Ole Miss commitment leads the Bears offense.
- Tricia Brown, Ensworth, Sr.: The outside hitter is the Lady Tigers’ top offensive weapon.
- Breanna Carlton, Franklin, Sr.: Carlton dished out 962 assists as the Lady Rebels’ setter.
- Logan Eggleston, Brentwood, So.: The outside hitter has been chosen to compete for the U.S. Girls Youth National Team in Puerto Rico from Aug. 31-Sept. 8.
- Garrett Joiner, Brentwood, Jr.: The Virginia commitment and outside hitter had 498 kills with 107 aces last season.
- Jordan Jones, Goodpasture, Sr.: The middle hitter was the District 8-A and Region 4-A MVP last season.
- Mackenzie LePage, Franklin, Sr.: The middle hitter had 272 kills a year ago.
- Leah Poarch, Siegel, Sr.: The outside hitter had 489 kills to help lead the Lady Stars to a Class AAA third-place finish.
- Maggie Thompson, Father Ryan, Sr.: The setter is one of two starters back from last year’s Division II-AA championship team.
- Sara Grace Wilson, Mt. Juliet, Sr.: The Troy commitment and libero headlines the Lady Bears’ defense.
Changing of guard
New Father Ryan coach Ann Mullins returns to her alma mater, replacing longtime coach Jinx Cockerham, who led the Lady Irish to five state championships and 10 runner-up finishes. Mullins, a 2003 graduate, was a libero at Tennessee and Lipscomb. She is one of five sisters who were standout players at Father Ryan.
Mullins recently coached at Ensworth and had been at Siegel.
“Just to be at a place with so much pedigree from coach Cockerham is cool,” Mullins said. “But it’s a lot to take on.”
Siegel must replace five starters off a team that finished third in the Class AAA state tournament in 2015 for the third consecutive season. However, the Lady Stars lineup will likely include a freshman and three sophomores. That freshman, Sophie Bossong, is a 6-foot setter.
Three-time defending Class A state champion Goodpasture will have a new identity this season, coach Lynn Dearing said. The Lady Cougars, who won the 2012 Class AA state title before being reclassified to Class A, return just three starters from last season’s squad.
“We’re a different team,” Dearing said. “We’ve had times when we were a powerhouse and at times we relied on our defense.
“This year we’re a mix of both. We’re not a super defensive team or really overpowering. I expect long volleys.”
3 must-watch tournaments
Smyrna Bulldog Bash, Aug. 19-20
WILLCO Volleyball Tournament, Sept. 23-24
Mid-Tenn Classic, Sept. 30-Oct. 1