This year the Eads Lady Eagles could be a team to take seriously as they return a solid crop of seniors and have some excellent younger athletes in supporting roles. Second year head coach Chelsea Davis stated, “I am so excited about our group of 16 volleyball player who are out this season. We have a good combination of versatile athletes who are ready and willing to play whatever position assigned. This year, without a doubt, our leadership will come from our hard working and versatile seniors.”
Davis will look to senior Brooklynn Jones, a two-year starting middle, to lead the Eagle offensive attack. Last year Jones had 79 kills at a 44.9% attack percentage and also contributed 63 blocks to the defense.
Davis will also look at two seniors to quarterback the team including last year’s setter Hadlie Rittgers and last year’s libero Lauren Spady. Davis indicates she is considering a change to a 5-1 offensive set at times this year which means Rittgers and Spady will trade off in their defensive or setter assignments. Last year Spady was a strong force in the back row picking up 245 digs. She also scored 50 points from the service line including 7 aces. Rittgers, who played setter last year, had 42 digs, and 50 points including 13 aces. Another senior force will be outside hitter Emily Gyrman who will spend a lot of time in the back row, as well. The hard hitting Gyurman led the team in aces with 22 on 76 service points.
Davis is also very happy to gain the services of senior Kaylee Wilson who had played varsity softball in Lamar for the past three fall seasons. According to Davis, “We have gained an amazing athlete in Kaylee who traded her softball cleats for volleyball knee pads to top off her senior year. She adds a different dynamic to our front row with amazing height, hard hits and blocks.”
Davis is also high on her two juniors whom she refers to as the BFFs because they are inseparable. They are Lauren Brown and Kaycee Ellenberger. Both are outside hitters with Brown using her strong athleticism to power through the ball and Ellenberger is taller with a more finesse approach. Brown is a very strong server. Ellenberger is tall and lanky and can be a huge threat on the block. The two will add a potent attack option for the team, as well.
Sophomore Ally Spady is the most flexible Lady Eagle, according to Davis, as she can literally play any and all positions on a volleyball court. She will provide leadership and success in whatever position is asked on any given day.
Track and Field state medalists Colby Stoker, a sophomore, who placed in the Shot Put and Discus last spring, and Reagen Johnson, an amazing runner and a senior this year, will both contribute to the varsity level. Both girls show promise with their serving game, hustle and good net awareness.
Sophomore, Mollie Kelley, continues to learn to read defense as a defensive specialist/libero, while sophomore Amber Kopasz will hit from right and left sides.
Finally, four Freshmen eagerly join the team and will bring depth to the group. Versatile athlete Rhealie Rittgers will excel at any position and promises to be an exceptional floor
leader. Kiya Leonard will provide dominate net work and athleticism. Davis will also look to Crystal Watson and Kyra Sheridan to do some setting as well as fill in some hitting roles as they continue to progress.
Davis stated, “We have one of the toughest leagues in the state and we are eager to see how we match up with the area teams.” And Davis ain’t a kiddin’ because they will again have to deal with the best team in the state and two-time state champions Kit Carson, which for years have been Eads’ main rival. For the past few years the Lady Wildcats have dominated not only the conference, but also the Region and the State. They return the bulk of their team, including 5 seniors, and will be the team to beat this year. Other competition will come from McClave, who will have a solid core of returners on a team that qualified for the state tournament last year.
On Saturday, August 11, Eads varsity and junior varsity groups scrimmaged in Lamar against McClave, Wiley, Las Animas and Lamar. According to Davis, “This was a great experience as we were able to work out some kinks and play some very competitive scrimmage games against a couple of the teams we will see later in the season.”
Eads will host Springfield in their home and season opener on Tuesday, August 21st. Last year, Eads defeated the Lady Longhorns in this opening contest.
EADS EAGLES VOLLEYBALL
(seated) Crystal Watson, Ally Spady, Rhaelie Rittgers, Lauren Spady
(kneeling) Brooklynn Jones, Lauren Brown, Hadlie Rittgers, Amber Kopasz, Mollie Kelley
(standing) Reagen Johnson, Kyra Sheridan, Kaycee Ellenberger, Kaylee Wilson, Kiya Leonard, Colby Stoker, Emily Gyurman