Catholic netters open today

Photo courtesy of Michael Uhl Parkersburg Catholic libero Gracie Lowers, pictured here last year making a dig at Williamstown, returns to the same role this year as a junior for the Crusaderettes.

PARKERSBURG — Last year in Amanda Weatherwax’s first season at the Parkersburg Catholic volleyball helm, “it was really a building year for us,” she said.

Stepping in to guide the PCHS volleyball program, “I thought we had a lot of potential and a lot of times, our games maybe didn’t end up with quite the result we were looking for,” said Weatherwax. “So I think last year was a great learning year for all of us, and we have some returners coming back who showed some experience and leadership, so I was glad to have that from last year.”

Two Catholic juniors, Gracie Lowers and Ari Nedeff, will play key roles for the Crusaderettes this fall.

Lowers, PCHS’ libero and a defensive specialist (DS), has been on the volleyball team at Catholic since she was a freshman, and has been the libero also for the last two years, “ever since I was a freshman,”she said.

On the new coach last year, Lowers said, “She’s brought a lot to this program. She makes us want to work hard, and she makes us want to win. She’s a good coach.”

For Catholic though, “it was not a very good season last year,” noted Lowers. “But this year,” she added, “what might make it be better than last year is that we have people who want to win and are hard workers.”

There are no seniors are on this year’s volleyball team, “but we had quite a bit of freshmen come in,” said Lowers. “We had five or six seniors last year, but they all graduated.”

So Catholic has only 13 players this year, sporting six freshmen and five sophomores to go with two juniors.

The Crusaderettes open the 2018 season at home today versus Williamstown at 6 p.m.

The freshmen influx this season numbering six have been making an impression. “Lainie (Ross) and Paige (Stotts) came in and they’re both really working hard,” said Nedeff. “They’re really good outside hitters and they’re improving a lot.”

And even with no seniors this year, said Weatherwax, “that might end up being really good for us in the next couple years. We’ll have girls in the coming years when they’re sophomores and juniors and then seniors, who will be quite experienced on the varsity level. So I think that’s one thing that will give us an advantage eventually.”

But this season, “our setter is a sophomore, Jenna Boice, who is constantly working hard and she shows good leadership even last year as a freshman, so will be a better leader this year,” said Weatherwax.

Libero Lowers “is one of the most intense players I’ve ever seen or coached,” said Weatherwax. “She hustles after everything and is a leader by example, which is always a good thing to have.”

Changing positions this year is sophomore Aaliyah Brunny, “who hit middle for us last year, but we’ve got her on the outside now,” said Weatherwax.

Another returning middle is sophomore Madison Ross, “who was a big leader for us in kills and blocks last year, along with Aaliyah,” noted Weatherwax.

Another returning soph on the right side is Beth Lowther, who has impressed the coach “so far with the smart choices that she’s made in our scrimmages,” said Weatherwax.

And still another returnee is sophomore Grace Pedersen, who “has really shown a lot of improvement this year,” said the coach.