Erin Blalock put her stamp on the Lady Pioneer volleyball program last year, making a big splash by adding a freshman team. Her ability to have more girls playing seems to be helping the spread of the sport locally. Over 40 girls showed up this week to try out for a position on the squad.
Blalock announced her roster for this upcoming fall, which features 19 players who could be vying for varsity spots and seven freshmen. Some of the youngsters could make the leap as well, only time will tell as Blalock sorts out all the talent at her disposal.
“(It was) very encouraging,” said Blalock of the talent that assembled for tryouts. “I was very encouraged by the turn out. We are hoping with our youth summer camp this summer will get more and more girls involved and interested in the sport.”
Blalock’s roster includes five seniors and five juniors, as well as nine sophomores who are emerging from last year’s freshman squad. There are some newcomers mixed into the fold as well, giving Blalock plenty of chances to improve her squad after an up-and-down season in 2020.
“We’ve got good leadership at the top with five seasoned seniors and our junior group looks to be big for us this season,” said Blalock. “The sophomores have improved tremendously and we’re looking to keep that going throughout the summer and into our season.
“We’re going to have a freshman team again too. We’ve got a few new players this year that I think will be great contributors as well.”
The senior class features Bella Cantrell, Marli McBride, Juju Pyburn, Danika Reno and Mea Starkey. All five have experience playing varsity, especially Reno as she’s been contributing since her freshman year. Starkey and McBride were solid hitters last year, while Cantrell’s powerful serve has longed been used as a weapon. Pyburn emerged as a jack-of-all-trades last year, capable of helping on both lines.
The junior group includes Mia Hobbs, Brianna Winkler and Jessie Young (all returners), along with Jessica Bell and Julia Bell. The Bell sisters are newcomers from California. Jessica and Julia (who also made the basketball team) just moved to the area and are hoping to make an early impact.
Sophomores Allyson Blalock, Lilly Cantrell, Aleah Davis, Emily Davis, Shelby Ford, Halle Loew, Jenna Newby, Kennedi Pegg and Sophie Woodlee will all be trying to break into the rotation this fall.
The freshman team will feature Ella Ashby, Annabella Culwell, Brinlee Griffith, Annabella Reinitz, Bri Taylor, Mackenzie Trapp and Haley Smith.
Warren County will hold workouts throughout the summer before beginning practice can begin Monday, July 26. The Lady Pioneers will be back on the court for games in late August.