High School Sports

City team previews

Paul Dunbar's Madison Hatcher has led the Bulldogs to two consecutive region titles. Hatcher was Dunbar's kills leader last season and the All-City player of the year.
Paul Dunbar's Madison Hatcher has led the Bulldogs to two consecutive region titles. Hatcher was Dunbar's kills leader last season and the All-City player of the year.

Bryan Station

Coach: Christina Coleman (second season)

Record: 24-12 (lost in first round of region tournament)

Top players: Sherryce Butler (sr., outside hitter); Alexis Cox (sr., middle hitter); Racheal Murphy (so., outside hitter); Callie Zaino (sr. rightside hitter)

Outlook: Coleman isn't shy. She is completely comfortable saying this could be one of the strongest volleyball teams in Bryan Station history. She returns a bulk of the talent that guided the Defenders to the region tournament last season. Station will be a power and finesse team with the focus on the power, with big hitters like Butler, Cox, Murphy and Zaino returning. Junior setter Melissa Boyle will be key to getting the ball to the right hands at key moments. The Defenders have had a season under Coleman and her system and should continue to improve. "We are looking to give some of the city teams a run," the coach said.

Defenders' schedule

Thurs.— Western Hills, 5: 30; Aug. 17— at Berea, 6; 19— Shelby Co., 7:30; 23— at Madison Central, 5:30; 26— at Tates Creek, 7:30; 30— at Madison Southern, 5:30;

Sept. 1— Lafayette, 7: 30; 2— Woodford Co., 7:30; 5— Berea, 6; 9— Franklin Co., 7:30; 14— Paul Dunbar, 7:30; 16— at Lexington Christian, 7:30; 21— at West Jessamine, 7:30; 23— at Grant Co., 7; 28— Madison Central, 5:30; 30— at Henry Clay, 7:30;

Oct. 4— Madison Southern, 5: 30; 7— Pulaski Co., 7.

Henry Clay

Coach: Dale Grupe (13th season)

Record: 35-5 (lost in region championship)

Top players: Mikayla Reese (sr., right side hitter); Kate Stromberg (sr., middle blocker); Jordan Strickland (jr., setter); Nicole Jenkins (jr., middle blocker); Emily Stromberg (jr., outside hitter); Natsuki Yamawaki (so., defensive specialist)

Outlook: Grupe doesn't like to talk up his teams, but he knows this group of Devils has the potential to do some things no Henry Clay team has ever done. Two straight region title game losses make this group "highly motivated," the coach said. They started the pre-season with a bang, winning the Bluegrass State Games and earning a No. 6 ranking from the state's coaches in the pre-season poll. Henry Clay is loaded with weapons, including Reese (a Morehead State commitment) and the Stromberg sisters. "We have three legitimate go-to people on the court at any time," Grupe said. The offense runs through Strickland, who distributes the ball effectively and is a weapon as well. A long middle attack will make the Devils a tough matchup. The team has to focus on just playing to win every point, Grupe said. He believes this group is focused enough to do that, which could take them far in the post-season.

Devils' schedule

Aug. 20-21— Bluegrass Invitational Volleyball Tournament at Kentucky Basketball Academy, TBA; 24— Lexington Christian, 7: 30; 26— at North Oldham, 7:30; 27-28— at Huntsville (Ala.) Ironman Tournament, TBA;

Sept. 7— at Ballard, 6: 30; 10-11— at Kesslers Nike Crossroads Classic, TBA; 15— at Lafayette, 7:30; 21— at Paul Dunbar, 7:30; 23— Tates Creek, 7:30; 24-25— at Quad City Classic, TBA; 30— Bryan Station, 7:30;

Oct. 5— Oldham Co., 8.


Coach: Chris Langston (17th season)

Record: 27-7 (lost in first round of district tournament)

Top players: Cat Starr (sr., middle hitter); Katie King (sr., setter)

Outlook: Never underestimate the power of good chemistry on a volleyball team. It hasn't always been there for the Generals of late, but it's there this season, and Langston said it could be what pulls the No. 13 Generals through close games. He credited his six seniors with creating the good vibes this year. Two of them, Division I prospects Starr (kills, blocks leader) and King, will be key to getting Lafayette out of a tough district tournament. Beyond those two, there's a plethora of young talent that is out to prove it can compete, Langston said. The youth is still working on minimizing mistakes and increasing its court awareness defensively, but once that comes, the coach is confident in this group of Generals.

Generals' schedule

Aug. 20-21— Bluegrass Invitational Volleyball Tournament, TBA; 26— at Scott, 8;

Sept. 1— at Bryan Station, 7: 30; 3-4— at Lafayette Invitational, TBA; 7— at Madison Central, 5:30; 9— at Tates Creek, 7:30; 14— at Lexington Catholic, 7:30; 15— Henry Clay, 7:30; 20— Ryle, 8; 23— Paul Dunbar, 7:30; 28— Lexington Christian, 7:30; 30— at Beechwood, 7:30;

Oct. 5— Highlands, 8; 7— Montgomery Co., 6.

Lexington Catholic

Coach: Mark McCloskey (third season)

Record: 26-8 (lost in region semifinals)

Top players: Alli Deaton (jr., setter); Emily Dalton (sr., middle blocker)

Outlook: For the Knights to make a return trip to the region semifinals, some players are going to have to grow quickly. "To say we are rebuilding might be putting it lightly," McCloskey said. "It's going to be a long process." Catholic, which graduated eight seniors, returns just two players with any kind of varsity experience in Deaton and Dalton. But the coach thinks this group, which he said is hard working and highly coachable, can help the program continue to make progress. "We could sneak up on some people, but it might not be until October," he said. "I'm just glad we have until then to get there."

Knights' schedule

Tues.— at North Oldham, 7: 30; Thurs.— at East Jessamine, 5:30; Aug. 18— at Manual, 7:30; 19— at West Jessamine, 7:30; 23— Highlands, 7:30; 24— South Oldham, 8; 31— at Lexington Christian, 7:30;

Sept. 2— West Jessamine, 7: 30; 7— Beechwood, 7:30; 9— Woodford Co., 7:30; 10-11— at Louisville Invitational Tournament, TBA; 14— Lafayette, 7:30; 15— Presentation, 7:30; 21— at Oldham Co., 8; 23— Lexington Christian, 7:30; 28— East Jessamine, 7:30; 30— Paul Dunbar, 7:30;

Oct. 1-2— at Jeffersontown Invitational at Ohio Valley Volleyball Center, TBA; 4— at Lou. Christian, 7: 30.

Lexington Christian

Coach: Teresa Ford (fifth season)

Record: 16-14 (lost in first round of region tournament)

Top players: Hannah Ford (sr., outside hitter); Jen Evans (jr., middle blocker/outside hitter); Bitty Ach (jr., right side hitter); Allie Washing (jr., setter); Maria Gifford (sr., libero); Rachel Lee (sr., defensive specialist)

Outlook: Coach Ford uses words like powerful, athletic, versatile and aggressive to describe this group of Eagles, who return a majority of their starters, including kills leader Hannah Ford, blocks leaders Evans and Ach, and defensive stalwarts Lee and Gifford. The Eagles are "intimidating at first glance," Ford said, with five players that are 5-foot-9 or taller. It could be LCA's most powerful hitting team yet, the coach said. She trusts setter Allie Washing to get the ball to the right people at the right time. The coach is a fan of the team's chemistry both on and off the court. A return trip to the region tournament and beyond certainly is attainable.

Eagles' schedule

Aug. 17— at East Jessamine, 7: 30; 21— at Berea, 1; 24— at Henry Clay, 7:30; 26— at West Jessamine, 7:30; 28— Nashville Christian (Tenn.), 7:30; 31— Lexington Catholic, 7:30;

Sept. 2— at Harrison Co., 7: 30; 7— Franklin Co., 7:30; 9— West Jessamine, 7:30; 14— at Madison Central, 5:30; 16— Bryan Station, 7:30; 21— at Scott Co., 7:30; 23— at Lexington Catholic, 7:30; 28— at Lafayette, 7:30; 30— Tates Creek, 7:30;

Oct. 5— at Paul Dunbar, 7: 30; 7— East Jessamine, 7:30.

Paul Dunbar

Coach: Jenni Morgan (sixth season)

Record: 35-10 (lost in state tournament quarterfinals)

Top players: Madison Hatcher (sr., outside hitter); Rachel Lowry (sr., middle blocker); Lauren Travis (sr., outside hitter); Christin Haney (sr., setter); Maggie Rhodus (sr., defensive specialist); Lesley Young (sr., defensive specialist)

Outlook: The Bulldogs, ranked No. 10 in the pre-season, have been to the state tournament twice and have a third straight trip on their minds. But to get back there Morgan said the team is going to lean a lot on sophomores and juniors to fill big roles. Dunbar isn't without star power, though, returning last year's All-City player of the year in Hatcher, who led the Dogs in kills. Lowry, Travis and Haney also came up big in the post-season. "We'll be leaning on those girls an awful lot as we start the season," Morgan said. The coach is a fan of her team's depth and versatility. She believes those things will serve them well as the season progresses.

Bulldogs' schedule

Tues.— at Presentation, 7; 17— Manual, 7: 30; 19— Boone Co., 7:30; 20-21 — Bluegrass Invitational Tournament at KBA, TBA; 24— at Franklin Co., 7:30; 26— at South Oldham, 8; 31— North Oldham, 7;

Sept. 2— at Eastern, 7: 30; 7— Scott Co., 7:30; 9— at Ryle, 7:30; 10-12— at Louisville Invitational Tournament, TBA; 14— at Bryan Station, 7:30; 16— Tates Creek, 7:30; 21— Henry Clay, 7:30; 23— at Lafayette, 7:30; 24— at Sonic Blast in Franklin, Tenn., TBA; 28— at Highlands, 7:30;

Oct. 4 — Southwestern, 6; 5— Lexington Christian, 7: 30.

Tates Creek

Coach: Shannon Alford (first season)

Record: 24-9 (lost in first round of district tournament)

Top players: Jessica Miller (sr., outside hitter/defensive specialist); Kendall Beerman (eighth-grader, outside hitter)

Outlook: With a new coach, just two seniors on the roster and a collection of youngsters getting their first varsity court time, it would be easy to call this a rebuilding year, but Alford doesn't see it that way. "We might be young, but we have a ton of potential," she said. "It's just about tapping into it." The athleticism and attitudes of her group have given Alford reason to be optimistic. By the end of the season after everyone gets comfortable in their roles, Alford believes the Commodores could sneak up on some teams, even ones in Creek's loaded 41st District. New leaders will have to emerge this season with the graduations of longtime starters and stat stuffers Robyn Hench and Abbi Wheeler.

Commodores' schedule

Fri.—at Summer Slam, TBA, 6:30; Aug. 20—Bluegrass Invitational Tournament, TBA; 24—Boone Co., 7:30; 26—Bryan Station, 7:30;

Sept. 3—at Scott Summer Slam, TBA; 7—Ryle, 7:30; 9—Lafayette, 9:30; 15—Conner, 7; 16—at Paul Dunbar, 7:30; 21—at Scott, 7:30; 23—at Henry Clay, 7:30; 24—at Highlands, 5; 28—at Scott Co., 7:30; 30—at Lexington Christian, 7:30;

Oct. 4—at Woodford Co., 7; 7—Madison Central, 5:30.