Southside Daily’s Joe Saade will bring you a series of team spotlights at the end of every sports season.
Here he looks at Virginia Beach girls volleyball for 2015. Princess Anne was featured previously. First Colonial is up next.
Kellam (28-3) 6A state semifinalist
Key moment of regular season: Coach Chuck Lewis said the pivotal moment during the season was a 3-0 win at Princess Anne in late September. Two weeks earlier, the Cavaliers had beaten he Knights in a 2-1 tournament game, handing Kellam its first loss of the season. The Knights’ rematch win on Sept. 24 showed their potential. “That was the moment that the girls believed they were good enough to take control and do some good things,” Lewis said. “We (coaches) knew all along that we had something special. After we beat PA at their place in straight sets, the girls knew they had something special.”
Key stat: 200 — The total number of blocks by middles Maddy Trypuc (92) and Tori Smith (108). The Knights’ two-headed middle monster created nightmares for opponents in the front now. Trypuc finished with a team-high 269 kills. Morris added 124.
Defining moment of state semifinals (3-1 loss to Madison): The Knights held a 1-0 set lead and went up 18-13 in the second set before the match went downhill. Kellam fell out of system and was outscored 62-44 in the final two-and-a-half sets. The Knights dug themselves in early holes and couldn’t sustain momentum when they fought back to tie or take small leads. “Madison adjusted quicker in the match than we did,” Lewis said. “It was probably more of the mental game that we kind of let go of that allowed them to be successful. Once you get in somebody’s head, it doesn’t matter how good you are physically.”
Coach Chuck Lewis: “If we played Madison three matches, there’s no way they’d beat us two out of three. I think we had the tools to take them. I’m super proud of the effort, how far they got. You lose in the semifinals, and that sucks, but when you look at the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that bad. I think with our youth, our kids grew up a lot. I think they’re ready for the next step.”
Unsung hero(s): Jessica Freeman. The junior defensive specialist stepped up when the Knights’ top hitter, senior Katie Piper, was sidelined for two weeks with an ankle injury toward the end of the season. Freeman filled the front-row position and became a six-rotation player. “She stepped up huge,” Lewis said. “She’s asked to play all the way around, and to replace one of our key players. She did an outstanding job.”
Savannah Marshall, the junior libero, was crucial in the team’s impressive run. The position she plays tends to get overlooked, but Marshall’s incredible ball-hawking abilities certainly were not — she was named to the All-Coastal Conference first team. “In my opinion, Savannah should be the state player of the year from the libero position,” Lewis said. “She’s like a grave digger. She digs anything and everything. You’ve got to be the queen of the back-row, and she embodies that and loves to be there.”
Senior outside hitter Allyson Clark was a steady, reliable player who Lewis said always “found a way to make it work.”
Future: The Knights will graduate two senior starting outside hitters, Piper and Clark, but return seven key starters from their nine-player starting rotation. Experience will not be a problem for the Knights next fall. “It feels incredible,” Lewis said. “Having seven players with state semifinals experience is huge. Nothing short of a state championship next year, while it’s always the goal — that’s the expectation.”