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Neely, Houk, Edwards honored in district balloting

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By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

 Carroll County’s Maleah Neely and coaches Rose Houk of Galax and Cindy Edwards of Carroll County were the top vote-getters on their respective all-district volleyball teams as voted on by the respective districts’ coaches.

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Neely, a junior, was named the Southwest District player of the year after helping lead Carroll County to the SWD season and tournament championships. Neely was the team leader in serving points (306), assists (411), aces (47) and digs (255), while finishing second on the team in kills (177) and third in blocks (37). Edwards was named the district’s coach of the year as Carroll County finished the season with  21-2 mark. Edwards’ Cavalier teams have gone a combined 43-3 over the past two seasons. The three top vote-getters in the league were Cavaliers. Joining Neely on the first team were juniors Dionna Reece and Honesty Rogers. Reece, an outside hitter, was the Cavaliers’ leader in kills (238), while Rogers, a libero, was second on the team with 206 digs. The three were joined on the first team by Marion senior Morgan Goodbrod and Tazewell senior Cara Cecil. Second-team picks from Carroll County included middle hitter Lauren Roper (135 kills, team-high 60 blocks) and Sarah Singleton (283 serving points, 32 aces, 114 kills). Jessi Goad, Lindsey Poe and Patricia Reed were honorable mention selections for Carroll County. Houk, a 29-year veteran at Galax, claimed the Mountain Empire District coach of the year award after what was arguably the Maroon Tide’s finest season. Galax finished the year with an 18-5 record and was undefeated in 10 MED matches, including the tournament. Galax won a first-round Region C match and was a point away from advancing to the state tournament before falling to Radford in extra points in the fifth game of the Region C semifinals. Houk, who won the 300th match of her career early in the season, will have five starters returning next year, including sophomore hitter Allison White, the runner-up in district player of the year balloting. White led the team in kills (349), aces (49) and blocks (64), was second with a .970 serving percentage and third in digs (182) and serving points (110). She put away an astonishing 36 kills in the Maroon Tide’s loss to Radford, which is unofficially the second-highest kill total for a single match in VHSL history. Four of the top five players were sophomores, including player of the year Savanna Burton of Narrows. Grayson County sophomore Brandi Goad earned first-team honors, as did Bland County sophomore Grace Sarver, Fort Chiswell junior Nancy Thacker and Narrows senior Spencer Lindsey.  Despite its dominating run through the MED, Galax had just one first-team pick, but the Maroon Tide placed three on the second team. Senior setter Jenna White averaged a team-leading 5.2 assists to go with 108 serving points and 169 digs. Kelsey Reedy was a key defensive player with a team-high 229 digs and Bailey Shumate was second on the team with 141 kills, along with 152 serving points, 38 aces and 227 digs.   ALL-MOUNTAIN EMPIRE DISTRICT VOLLEYBALL TEAM

First team Savanna Burton (soph., Narrows), Allison White (soph. Galax), Grace Sarver (soph., Bland County), Nancy Thacker (jr., Fort Chiswell), Brandi Goad (soph., Grayson County), Spencer Lindsey (sr., Narrows).

Player of the year Savanna Burton, Narrows Coach of the year Rose Houk, Galax

Second team Jenna White (sr., Galax), Taylor Hale (soph., Grayson County), Kelly Thomas (jr., Fort Chiswell), Kelsey Reedy (jr., Galax), Andi Guynn (sr., Narrows), Bailey Shumate (soph., Galax), Krystal Sarver (sr., Bland County).

Honorable mention Erin Barrett (fr., Grayson County), Becca Johnson (jr., Grayson County), Abby Davis (jr., Narrows), Briana Ogden (sr., Narrows), Emily Steed (jr., Fort Chiswell), Jade Campbell (jr., Fort Chiswell), Kemberlea Simmons (jr., Galax), Drew Cardwell (sr., Galax), Kellie Morris (jr., Bland County), Kellie Blessing (soph., Bland County), Kaitlin Porter (soph., Galax), Alison Morgan (soph., Bland County).

ALL-SOUTHWEST DISTRICT VOLLEYBALL TEAM

First team Maleah Neely (jr., Carroll County), Dionna Reece (jr., Carroll County), Honesty Rogers (jr., Carroll County), Morgan Goodbrod (sr., Marion), Cassie Ringstaff (sr., Tazewell), Cara Cecil (sr., Tazewell).

Player of the year Maleah Neely, Carroll County Coach of the year Cindy Edwards, Carroll County

Second team Taylor Leland (jr., Abingdon), Lauren Roper (jr., Carroll County), Sarah Singleton (jr., Carroll County), Miranda Hayden (sr., Marion), Suzy Thompson (sr., Marion), Morgan Hill (sr., Richlands), Lindsey Scribner (sr., Tazewell).

Honorable mention Abingdon – Hannah Bays, Katie Bays, Julie Stepp, Sabrina Viers, Lynsi Ayers. Carroll County – Jessi Goad, Lindsey Poe, Patricia Reed. Graham – Chelsea Gallinger, Chrystal Dickens, Molly Dove, Kelli Landreth. Grundy – Carlie Bishop, Misty Charles, Katelyn Contret, Danielle Stacy, Morgan Reynolds, Emily Rife. Marion – Taloni Dalton, Mackenzie Demarce, Jessica Harris, Elizabeth Rakes. Richlands – Chelsea Asbury, Crystal Blankenship, Jordyn Cole, Samantha Martin, Ashley Morgan, Catherine Smith. Tazewell – Olivia Hart, Sydnei Lester, Natalie Parsons, Becca Pike.