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Maroon Tide volleyball team optimistic in 09

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One win away from MED season and tournament titles last year, Galax’s first W in 09 will be big.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

Though Galax must replace a couple of key components to what was a whisker away from being a championship team, the Maroon Tide should have plenty to look forward to as it begins the 2009 volleyball season tonight at Carroll County. Though it will be difficult to replace MED player of the year Jamie Cockerham, she of the 333 kills, 60 aces and 146 digs, the Maroon Tide has the components in place to produce another winning season, which has become the norm in Galax. The Maroon Tide has failed to reach the Region C tournament only once in the past 10 seasons. “We hope to continue the successful volleyball traditions at Galax,” said head coach Rose Houk. “This year’s team has some dedicated senior leaders, some top-notch returning players and some new, young talent, so I feel like we’re a pretty good blend.” Galax suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses toward the end of last season, dropping a five-game loss to Fort Chiswell in a playoff for the regular season championship, and then falling to the Pioneers, again in five games, in the MED tournament finals. Galax battled George Wythe in the Region C quarterfinals in a 3-0 defeat, thus longtime coach Rose Houk ended the 2008 season one win shy of No. 300 for her career. Five players return from that team, which finished 15-13. The Tide’s top returning hitter, Allison White, registered 137 kills to go with 66 blocks as a freshman, while first-team all-district setter Jenna White was three assists short of 400 last year. Drew Cardwell was the Tide’s most effective server, leading the team with 25 points and a .925 serving percentage. Kemberlea Simmons and Kelsey Reedy bring experience from last year and will be joined by newcomers Hailey Cassell, Bailey Shumate, Taylor Bryant, Burgandy Bobbitt, Kaitlin Porter and Kristen Osborne, all coming off a 20-2 year at the JV level. Houk said that offseason work and competitive practices have made the Maroon Tide a balanced bunch. “Coach [Emily] Tolley and I feel confident putting any six of our players on the court at any given time,” said Houk. “One thing that will benefit us is that there is such a high level of competition in our practices. We have a lot of speed and strength, and the girls are working that much harder to earn a position. That can only help us out once the season gets started.”

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