Reed has lost a strong senior core of Katy Fitzpatrick, Sierra Hooft, McKinley Chesley, Meghan Rader and Olivia Emerson.
While those losses might have knocked Reed from its perch as favorites to win the North this season, coach Kristen Flagtvedt still believes the team has a lot of promise.
“I felt of the girls who are coming back, all of them have really put in a lot of time and effort into the offseason to really improve their skills going into this season,” Flagtvedt said. “That will hopefully will make a big difference on this season.”
Leading the way experience wise is junior Moriah Maluotoga, who enters her third year as a starter. This season Maluotoga will spend part time at setter as well as her usual outside hitter position.
Taylor Stefan, Taylor Whitehead, Katelyn Singer and Amber Harris are all senior returners. Madison Funk and Kelsey Donohoe also return to the squad.
There’s an added excitement surrounding the program after last year’s surprise success.
“I definitely think there’s more excitement,” Flagtvedt said. “They hung their banner up over the summer, so all the girls coming to tryouts saw that and all the girls returning saw it. I think that they’re excited about this season because they want to have another successful year.”
Flagtvedt feels the Raiders will be strong in serving and passing and hopefully in intensity.
Reed will be in Las Vegas this weekend for a tournament and then will head to South Tahoe next week. The league schedule begins Sept. 4 at Galena.
“I’m really excited. They are very motivated. We’ll continue to go off that and hopefully come out strong and see what happens,” Flagtvedt said.
Spanish Springs Cougars
Spanish Springs won’t be forgetting last year’s loss in the regional championship match to cross-town rival Reed anytime soon. With only one senior on last year’s squad, there are plenty of players back with something to prove.
“We haven’t really talked about it, but I’m sure it’s in the back of their minds,” SSHS volleyball coach Frank Sandomenico said. “It was by far the best season in school history, so overall it was definitely a success. This year we’re taking the approach that we will respect all our opponents, but not fear any of them.”
Leading the way is senior Lyndsey Anderson, the reigning High Desert League Player of the Year. Anderson does it all for the Cougs. She was the team’s main setter, handing out 346 assists. But she was also fourth in kills and third in blocks, making her presence felt at the net. Behind the service line, she was almost perfect, hitting 97% of her serves in play and recording 30 aces.
Cougars outside hitter Melly Munley and middle blocker Gabby Szachara were first team all-league honorees last year as a junior and sophomore respectively.
Munley led the SSHS spikers in kills (154) and aces (45). Szachara was first in blocks and third in kills.
Senior Rachel Loadholt is also back and was second in kills and digs from her outside hitter position a year ago. She also tied with Munley as the team’s top passer.
Hannah Meadows, who played as a second setter and right side hitter last year, allowed Anderson to play in different spots. Meadows was named to second team all-league. She had 147 assists and 27 aces.
“We have all the pieces there. It’s just a matter of the girls working hard everyday in practice,” Sandomenico said.
Spanish Springs has two tournaments before it opens league play Sept. 4 when it hosts Douglas.
Wins have been hard to come by for the Sparks volleyball squad the past few seasons, but the Railroaders’ core players are finally seniors.
Coach Tarina Elliott expects big things from seniors Krystal Parker, Katelynn Vandever and Jessica Garcia. Parker and Vandever will be middle blockers, while Garcia is on the outside.
Parker did it all for the Maroon and Gold last fall, pacing the Railroaders in kills, blocks, assists and aces en route to a first team all-league selection as a utility player.
“I’m looking for a lot of big things out of her,” Elliott said. “We’re trying to run her as a middle and have her play all the way around in the back row. We’re trying to work on her passing. We’re going to utilize her as much as we can.”
Currently, Marjorie Cabales is the team’s setter, but she is also Sparks’ best passer, so Elliott is trying to work other players into the setter’s role.
With only 10 players on the team, Sparks hasn’t been utilizing a libero and everyone is working on being able to play in the back and front rows. Elliott said she hopes the team continues to be strong on defense like it’s been in the past since Sparks is undersized compared to most opponents.
Sparks opens the regular season at home against Yerington Tuesday.
“I’m hoping that we’re the underdogs and I see a lot of good things out of them,” Elliott said. “I have the four-year returning seniors who have been on the team since they were sophomores as varsity players. I’m hoping they run the court and do what I’ve been trying to get them to do.”