How often do you see all three of Vigo County’s head coaches making their varsity debuts in a high school sport in the same season?
Not very often, but this year that is the case in volleyball.
Shelby Reed has replaced Kelsey Patrick at Terre Haute North, Libbi Fougerousse has taken over for Jessica Kent at Terre Haute South and Cameron Porter has penciled his name in for Casey Lee at West Vigo.
Fifth-year coach Erica Garrison is still at Northview, but now she’s pregnant.
Throw in the COVID-19 factor and this could be a unique season for Vigo/Northview volleyball.
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• Northview — Garrison has three senior starters returning, although not all of them are in the same positions they were in last year.
They are Katy Anderson at libero, 5-foot-10 Destiny Burns at middle hitter and Maizie Pell (who will miss the early part of the season) at outside hitter.
Garrison said freshman Saylor Clark will fill in for Pell until she can come back. Clark’s older sister, 5-11 junior Sidda Lee Clark, also is expected to make her presence felt on the front line.
Freshmen Audrey Lee (outside hitter and back row) and Addie Bowman (setter), both starters already, could be significant contributors for years to come, Garrison added.
“We’re really young,” Garrison admitted. “I’ll be starting three freshmen in our first match, so it will be interesting to see what they can do at the varsity level.”
Northview will begin its season Saturday in the four-team Brebeuf Opening Invitational.
• Terre Haute North — Reed, known as Shelby Crncic when she played for Terre Haute South roughly 10 years ago, served as the Patriots’ JV coach last season. She’s also coached club volleyball in the past.
“I’ve known this year’s seniors since they were 11 years old,” Reed pointed out. “I wanted to step in and make sure they were in good hands. ... We’re going to count on our seniors to take charge and take this team to the next level.”
Among the seniors she’s counting on are libero Keely Davis, outside-hitter Braxton Shelton, setter Victoria Elden, 6-0 right-side Ellie Staggs, middle-hitter Chloe Southard and defensive specialists Morgan Adams and Payton Ferency, plus there’s 6-1 junior middle-hitter Ella Bell. Reed anticipates Bell seeing more time on the court than she had in previous seasons.
North, which finished 17-16 in 2019, will tip off its 2020 campaign Tuesday at South Vermillion.
• Terre Haute South — A full-time Indiana State University student majoring in math education, Fougerousse is a 2016 graduate of Linton High School, where she played four seasons of varsity volleyball.
Her senior year at Linton, Fougerousse started coaching travel volleyball for youths. Two years ago, she was the junior varsity coach at South before she moved to Florida. Then after one year, she had a change of heart and returned to the Wabash Valley in January.
“I already know this year’s seniors and juniors [having coached them two years ago] and I knew there was a talented freshman group coming in,” Fougerousse told the Tribune-Star. “We are very young, which makes room for a lot of growth. I’m very excited to watch that growth from the beginning of the season to the end.”
One of the Wabash Valley’s best players is South junior Courtney Jones, an outside hitter.
“She’s a phenomenal player,” Fougerousse emphasized. “She has a bunch of colleges looking at her. She’s a stud.”
Mixing in and out with Jones in the starting lineup will be senior middle-hitter Mikaila Sullivan, a pair of freshmen — middle-hitter Lilly Merk and setter Mia Loyd (daughter of Rose-Hulman men’s basketball coach Rusty Loyd) — junior libero Emma Hopper and sophomore outside-hitter Reagan Ealy.
As some of you might remember, South’s volleyball squad made news for something it didn’t want to last week when it faced self-quarantine because of possible exposure to a positive case of COVID-19.
Fougerousse said that situation appears to be moving in a positive direction and the Braves are expected to play their first match Aug. 31 at Bloomington North, although there is a chance they’ll pick up a last-minute match for Aug. 29. Other scheduling changes are moving the Senior Night match against Sullivan up to Sept. 1 and the North-South rivalry match in the Patriots’ gym to Sept. 2.
• West Vigo — Cameron Porter, only 25, coached the Rose-Hulman coed club team before accepting the job with the Vikings.
“I’ve been playing volleyball since I was in sixth grade and I helped start up the boys team at Noblesville High School,” he explained. “I’ve always had a love for the sport.”
Among Porter’s starters are senior setter Cierra Marrs, junior right-side Erin Murphy, junior left-side Riley Dierdorf and junior libero Jayci Scott.
“I’m really excited to be working with this team,” he continued. “We have a lot of height and I can see these girls have a lot of drive. They’re ready to play hard and give it their all.”
West Vigo will open Monday at Parke Heritage.