Reigning region champion Allen Central preparing for 2012 season
by by STEVE LeMASTER
EASTERN - The Allen Central High School volleyball team is preparing for the new season, returning the core of its 2011 squad. The Rebels had a very successful run during 2011, winning the 15th Region All ‘A’ Clasic, reaching the semifinals of the small-school state tournament and claiming the 15th Region tournament title. Allen Central was also the first 15th Region volleyball team to win a match in the state tournament with a 2-0 win over Corbin. The Rebels finished the season with an impressive 30-11 record.
Back for the 2012 season are seniors Courtney Hodge, Ciara Jones, and Laken Tackett. Also, juniors Rachel Moore and DeShea Elliott and freshman Katie Kendrick return for the Rebels. Those players excelled last season, combining for 80 service aces, 281 assists, 876 kills, 1078 returns, 440 digs and 280 blocks.
“This year’s team will be defensively focused and hinge on speed and quickness to the ball,” Allen Central Coach Larry Maynard commented. “They are a small team but very consistent and play big. Teams that take them for granted will be very surprised at their aggressiveness, power, and they way they cover the court.”
There will be a few who may be ‘new’ to a varsity line up but experienced and seasoned over the years. A lot is expected from junior Brandy Crum, sophomores Heather Burdzilauskas, Taylor Moore, Emily Watkins, and Lanah Gibson, and Freshmen Sarah Grindrod, Jannah Halbert and Chelsea Austin. Others expected to step up their game and contribute to the varsity are Kelsie Jackson, Hayley Pinson, Haley Smith, Emily Johnson, Breanna Thompson, Lauryn Stumbo and Shawna Holbrook. “They all are varsity caliber and can and will be called upon to fill any voids in our defense or offense,” Maynard added.
Allen Central’s game plan is simple, stop or slow the opponent’s offense and run a balanced attack from every position.
“This is a team that devotes themselves to be better individually,” Maynard commented. “They are extremely dedicated to this program and to its success.”
The Rebels’ philosophy this year is ‘Play like they are in first, practice like they are in second.’ The Allen Central squad has attended various camps at the University of Kentucky, Morehead State University, and the University of Pikeville. The Allen Central players give up a lot of personal time to be the best the can be - and it shows. The Rebels played in the Rowan County Summer Smash and finished 10–2. Allen Central also participated in the Morehead team camp, compiling a 14–7 record against multiple powerhouses.
Maynard, who captured his 300th career win last year, added, “it is all about them. They want to do the off-season physical training and conditioning, they are the ones that want to get into the gym to practice and attend camps, and, any success we have, is because of them, their dedication, and willingness to work hard to achieve it.”
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