Eastern Alamance’s volleyball squad is looking to return to the NCHSAA state playoffs this fall after missing the postseason in 2018. The Eagles went 11-13 a year ago, and 6-8 in Mid-State Conference play. EAHS's last NCHSAA 3A state playoff appearance in volleyball was in 2016.
Although the Eagles lost a bunch of productive seniors from the 2018 team, including Miranda Garza, Sydnee Foust, Claira Yount, Bailey Retherford, Morgan Lawson, and Delaney Schauble, the team is rebuilding with a combination of returning veterans and newcomers.
Head coach Rebecca Wood is working with a mostly younger group, as Eastern only has two seniors this fall - Ashleigh Taylor and Madison Hartley. In total, Eastern has six players with returning varsity experience.
Hartley is an important component of Eastern’s offensive game, as she tied for second on the team last season as a junior in both service points (78) and assists (198). Hartley’s ability to get the Eagles on the scoreboard through serving and setting up teammates is needed with a young group of attackers. Hartley added 38 digs and 8 kills last season. Taylor added 13 kills, 6 blocked shots, 37 service points, and 10 digs as a junior in 2018.
Two players who got valuable experience for the Eagles last season as freshmen - Kamari Mims and Loren Crabbe - are now stepping into much more prominent roles as sophomores.
Crabbe led the Eagles in kills (158) and service points (79) last season, and enters 2019 as a preseason All-Mid-State Conference favorite. Mims placed second on the EAHS roster last season in blocks (24) and fifth in kills (58). Two other sophomores - Makiya Graves and Tanyla Smith - are stepping up to the varsity level for the first time this season.
Six juniors - Maddie Lawson, Reagan Hartley, Addison Curl, Kearsyn Henderson, Ryan Foy, and Taryn Shelton - will make up much of the team’s remaining core. Lawson and Hartley were key components of the Eastern rotation as sophomores last fall, while Curl, Henderson, Foy, and Shelton are being promoted from the EAHS junior varsity squad.
Reagan Hartley is a key part of Eastern’s defense - the team’s returning leader in digs. Hartley is also the leading returner for the Eagles in terms of receiving serves from the opposing team. Hartley’s ability to effectively and consistently receive opposing serves - providing opportunities for the Eagles to set up scoring opportunities -will be vital to the team’s success.
Many of Hartley’s service receptions will be intended for fellow junior Maddie Lawson. Lawson was the team’s leader in terms of setting a season ago, as the then-sophomore led the Eagles with 262 assists. She also tied for fourth on the team in digs (64). Her skills on defense and getting the Eagles in position to score points this fall will be hugely valuable.
The Eagles open the regular season next week with a road match against Cedar Ridge in Hillsborough starting at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 19. EAHS will play its home opener on Wednesday, August 21 against Graham at 5:00 p.m..