With the season beginning this week, Walker Valley volleyball coach Judy Pruett feels that she has the right 10 girls playing on her varsity squad.
“I have confidence in the 10 players that we are carrying on varsity,” Coach Pruett declared. “The girls really get along this year, so I think that our biggest strength will come from their desire to win and the fact that they are all friends.”
Nikki Prugh, Katelin Scoggins and Carly Frost are the lone seniors of the bunch, which has shaped up to be an extremely junior-heavy team.
Prugh is an outside hitter who has been playing under Pruett’s direction since the sixth grade and has also played club ball.
“She’ll be a contributor to our hitting aspect and will play some back row,” Coach Pruett said.
Scoggins, who also plays club ball, will be the team’s libero and play in the back row as well.
Frost, who transferred from Cleveland and is entering her second season with the Lady Mustangs, is a defensive specialist who moved up to the varsity squad this year.
The six juniors on the team include Alexan Crittenden, Ashlyn Flock, Madison Pruett Madison Russo, Mikayla Lumpkin and Sara Wilson.
Walker Valley will be playing with six hitters and two setters.
Both Crittenden and Flock will play as setters and right side hitters.
“Ashlyn and Alexan both do great jobs at setting, hitting and doing different things with the ball,” Pruett explained.
Wilson will see playing time as an outside hitter and some back row play, with Lumpkin and Russo slated to play middle.
The lone sophomore on the squad is Julia McGuire, who can play middle and other hitting positions as needed.
“She’s probably the tallest player we have on our entire team,” Pruett said of the 5-foot-9-inch sophomore. “She’s aggressive and doing a good job at blocking. She’s not a starter, but she’ll see some playing time on varsity.”
Once again, the Lady Mustangs will be challenged by a lack of height this season, with the average player being 5-foot-7.
“We’ve been called a scrappy team. We’ve got the skills to do everything that needs to be done, we just don’t have the height,” Pruett commented. “I think we’re pretty solid, I just hope we stay injury free. If a few people get injured, we may struggle due to depth.”
Coach Pruett expects Ooltewah to be the team to beat again this season, as the Lady Owls lost only one senior and have three or more girls who are over six feet tall.
The Lady Mustangs will travel to Ooltewah on Sept. 4 for what is sure to be a heated District 5-AAA battle.
Walker Valley opens up its district play at home against Cleveland on Wednesday, with freshmen playing at 5 p.m., JV playing at 6 and varsity taking the court at 7.