By Adam Wolfe
Despite losing four starters from last year’s team, first-year head coach Lashieka Holley has high hopes for her team.
The 2015 version of the Maricopa High School Rams volleyball team will have only two returning starters, but Holley believes the foundation laid by last year’s senior class will be a boost to this year’s squad.
Half of the six seniors on the 2014 team – Taylor Holz, Kourtney Brown and Katelin Jensen – joined their former teammate, 2013 graduate Briauna “Breezy” Tutwiler, at Southern Connecticut State University.
“We lost a big group of seniors last year, with four of them being starters,” Holley said. “The graduating class of 2015 set a strong foundation for the future of MHS volleyball. We are only returning two starters from the 2014 team, [which] finished with the best record yet for MHS at 10-7.”
According to Holley, the team will depend heavily on three-year starter Liz Gallon. Gallon, who plays middle hitter, was named Second Team All-Section in 2013, and All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2014.
“Gallon was one of the leading blockers in the section and division both her sophomore and junior year,” Holley said. “Helping Liz this season will be returning junior setter Morgan Peters, who will step into the starting setter position, and senior [middle blocker] Annalyn Concepcion. All three will play a huge role in helping this team accomplish their main goal of making it to the playoffs for the first time since the ‘80s.”
If the 2015 team is to succeed, they will need to cope with a tremendous amount of change. This season will feature a new coach, a new section and a new division. Due to division expansion, Maricopa will no longer be competing in Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II. Instead, volleyball will compete in Division III.
“This is a move that we are very excited about as it will put us more evenly matched with the schools that we play,” Holley said. “Our new section includes Horizon, Apache Junction, Chandler Prep, Tempe Prep and Florence, just to name a few. The varsity team will also be competing in the Florence Tournament as well as the Greenway Tournament.”
The division change could prove to be beneficial for the team, but losing five-year head coach Julia Jefferson will be tough to overcome. Jefferson vacated her head coaching position after accepting another job.
“[Jefferson’s] decision to leave was hard for her, but one that was made in the best interest of herself and her daughters’ futures,” Holley said. “I am excited to be named the head coach for the 2015 season and the challenges we will endure. I have worked with Coach Julia for the past four years and feel very confident that we will keep building on the foundation that was created here at MHS and that this team will make it to the playoffs.”
Like many teams at Maricopa High School, the 2015 Volleyball Rams will be young.
“We have a lot going for us this season, but only hard work, dedication and commitment will determine our end results,” Holley said.
Maricopa High School Volleyball
Aug. 26 at Marana Mtn. View (scrimmage) 5 p.m.
Aug. 31 at Horizon Honors 5 p.m.
Sept. 1 vs. Kofa 6 p.m.
Sept. 3 vs. Flowing Wells 6 p.m.
Sept. 8 vs. Catalina Magnet 6 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Cholla High Magnet 6 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Casa Grande 6 p.m.
Sept. 17 vs. Florence 6 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Valley Christian 6 p.m.
Sept. 22 vs. Vista Grande 6 p.m.
Sept. 24 vs. Phoenix Country Day School 6 p.m.
Oct. 1 at Poston Butte 6 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Veritas Preparatory Academy 6 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Chandler Preparatory Academy6 p.m.
Oct. 20 at Fountain Hills 6 p.m.
Oct. 22 at Gila Ridge 6 p.m.
Oct. 27 at Tempe Preparatory Academy 6 p.m.
Oct. 29 vs. Apache Junction (Senior Night) 6 p.m.