Volleyball opens with five home games

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The 2017 William Byrd varsity volleyball team. Front Row, left to right; Mary Kate Price, Hannah Shelton, Elena Boitnott
and Lauren Heck. Standing left to right; Megan James, Anna McSherry, Maddy Nance, Alison Stoehr, Faith Andrews,
Lexi Dean, Grayce Dantzler and Lena Rice. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The William Byrd volleyball team will open the season with high hopes on Tuesday when the girls host Cave Spring.

Byrd has had two preseason scrimmages. The girls played host to James River, a state contender in Group 2A, last Thursday and on Tuesday of this week they were at E.C. Glass. Coach Allison Thornton is pleased with how hard the team has been working.

“Although our team may be young, the girls have been working hard on their game since the end of last season,” said Thornton. “ Many of the girls played travel volleyball for different organizations in the valley in the off season. In addition, last May they started attending weekly clinics held at William Byrd hosted by different college coaches and players to continue striving for success. The hard work has paid off as our summer practices have been great.”

Byrd will be led by four seniors, Mary Kate Price, Lauren Heck, Hannah Shelton and Elena Boitnott. Another key returnee is middle hitter Maddy Nance, who played well as a sophomore.

The Terriers graduated seven seniors last year, so there are some spots to be filled. Joining Nance from the junior class are Faith Andrews, Anna McSherry, Megan James and Lena Rice. Sophomores are Lexi Dean and Alson Stoehr and one freshman made the varsity, Grayce Dantzler.

“We have some big shoes to fill,” said Thornton. “Our team goal is to stay positive. Negativity is contagious. We want to stay positive no matter what the situation. Encouragement and support for and from your teammates is what can allow success.”

While the record is important, Thornton is more concerned about showing daily improvement as the season begins. With a young team, she expects the Terriers to be better in November than they are in August.

“We must improve every day, that started in the off season,” she said. “Last season we competed further than William Byrd volleyball has been in years and we want to continue that winning tradition.”

Thornton will be assisted by Molly Deacon, Sammi Webster and Scott Kelly. She feels like she has a good group of citizens, and hopefully good volleyball players.

“We want winners on and off the court,” she said. “School, grades and what kind of character you have defines you most.”

The Terriers are hoping to get off to a good start with their first five games at home. The Byrd gym received a facelift during the summer and the girls will play all their August games at home. They have Cave Spring on the 22nd, Patrick Henry on the 24th, Salem on the 28th, Jefferson Forest on the 29th and Glenvar on the 31st.