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Volleyball team members for Central A & M High School are, in front, from left, Ashlyn Hennings, Rainey Mitsdarffer, Marissa Snearly, Mackenzie Smith, Sydney Allen and Tiffany Webb. In back, Laynee Dunakey, Coach Lesley Conlin, Jade Braundmeier, Alana Harlow, Jilyan Burgener, Julia Corzine, Jayne Damery, Coach Vanessa Rork and Coach Ocle Duncan
MOWEAQUA — Leadership will be a key component for the Central A & M Raiders volleyball team to succeed and Coach Vanessa Rork is waiting for her team to respond.
“I am searching for anyone to step up,” Coach Rork said. “Although it is the seniors time to embrace leadership, I am hopeful that more players will lead with skill production and incredible communication. Marissa Snearly and Julia Corzine will have opportunities to display command of the court and contribute offensively and defensively. Makenzie “Mack” Smith was getting into a nice groove with her attacking this summer, so I look forward to seeing her define that more and more.”
With the constant unknown of the last volleyball season, Rork saw determination and growth in her players.
“I consider last season a victory and we were very thankful to have the opportunity to play,” Rork said. “I witnessed how resilient and determined some athletes can be despite challenges and how to help them adapt to change. My AD worked hard to get us more matches and even though that meant less time working in a practice setting on fundamentals, the girls were able to learn as they competed which proved valuable. This season, my hope is that everyone truly understands the value of how each opportunity to compete in practice or in a match is an opportunity for growth and to not take it for granted.”
She is optimistic with this year’s team.
“We have made some good connections this summer. I am pleased with their work ethic and desire to compete,” Rork said. “We still have much room for growth in defining our skills and stamina.”
Key players for the Raiders this season include Makenzie Smith (Senior OH), Marissa Snearly (Senior Setter), Ashlyn Hennings (Senior Middle Hitter), Julia Corzine (Junior, Setter/Right Side Hitter).
“I am looking forward to seeing who steps up in the defense department and in overall team leadership. I would like to see that not through one single individual contributor but as a team collaborative effort,” said Rork. “My hope is that more players, key players or not, find their value in leading in passion for game, communication, and skill product.
Several underclassmen, who have been putting in work during the summer, have not gone unnoticed.
“Jayne Damery, Jade Braundmeier and Alana Harlow lit a fire with their hard work ethic, enthusiasm, and drive to push
themselves. They put up some good numbers in stat production and level of play. I was pleased with their dedication and drive to improve,” said the coach.
No match is any more important than another, the coach feels when she was asked about one she was looking forward to play.
“No match is a wasted opportunity,” she said. “We are in the process of developing team goals for tournaments and overall matches.”
The coach is confident in the programs direction and the success which it has found.
“One of my highlights has been watching one of my middle school teams competitively thrive and compete at state,” Rork said. “As Central A & M’s Head Coach for the High School and Middle School program, I coach here because being a Raider is second to none.”