With key players gone from both the Fort Mill and Nation Ford volleyball teams, each school looks to have replacements step up to fill those spots in 2016.
At Fort Mill, Tessa Grubbs and Payton Carter have moved on to play in college. The same can be said for Nation Ford’s Jessica Kemp. However, the Jackets’ and Falcons’ coaches seem optimistic about filling the voids left by their stars from last year.
“We have two big holes to fill, but that will be a great opportunity for other girls to step up,” said Fort Mill head coach Gina Farley.
Fort Mill comes off a year where the Jackets finished 23-6-2 and lost in the second round of the 4A playoffs to Dorman. Now in 5A, Fort Mill looks to keep momentum on its side. The team has seven seniors on their roster and five starters back overall.
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“I am excited about the upcoming season,” Farley said. “The versatility we have at the net and the experience we have in the back court. We have an entirely different strategy of play this year.”
Farley said she feels the Jackets should be able to compete with any team in Region IV this year. Fort Mill opens the season at Davidson College in a tournament Aug. 20.
Falcons add 6-4 freshman
At Nation Ford, the Falcons have three returning starters back and four seniors on a team that finished 37-14-2 last year and made it to the third round of the playoffs before falling to TL Hanna.
What they do have back is a lot of experience in seniors Chanel Turner, Kelli Martin and Quin Sutphin. Sutphin has already verbally committed to Kennesaw State University and Turner is also looking at colleges where she can play at the next level.
“I feel good about where we are at,” said Nation Ford head coach Carrie Christian. “Our region is extremely tough. It’s going to be a battle.”
Nation Ford also adds 6’4” freshman Sophie Fischer to its squad to help with the Falcons’ play at the net.
Christian said the move to 5A shouldn’t be an issue for Nation Ford.
“All the teams we see in the playoffs are all the teams that moved up to 5A anyway,” she said.
Nation Ford opens its season Aug. 19 at a tournament at Charlotte Country Day and will host its on tournament Aug. 26-27.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM