Mustangs lose seven seniors but expect continued success

Published 3:19 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2011

After losing seven seniors from last year’s team, opponents may think the Isabella volleyball team is in for a down year.

If so, the Mustangs may just disappoint some people.

Coach Glen Graham said the replacements for last year’s stars have filled in admirably so far—though the season begins Thursday when Dallas County and area foe Billingsley visit IHS.

“We started kind of rusty in practice, but the last week we’ve been getting sharper every day,” Graham said. “The girls have been working hard and have a great attitude. These girls are starting to find their own identity.”

The Mustangs will lean on a trio of returning starters: seniors Savannah Kissel and Allison Mims at middle blocker and libero, respectively, and junior Khadijah Craig at outside hitter.

Sophomore Alandra Griffith also saw plenty of playing time last season and even started as the Mustangs competed in the sub-state tournament and advanced all the way to the Elite 8 state tournament in Pelham. She returns to her outside hitter position.

Adding to the playing rotation at the net will be senior middle blocker Hayden Compton. Compton didn’t play the past two seasons but is familiar with the sport and the program, Graham said.

“Her blocking has been really, really good, and her hitting is coming around,” he said. “She should have a good year.”

Sharing time at setter will be juniors Heather Posey and Amber Flanagan. Posey apprenticed on the varsity team last season, while Flanagan gained experience as the setter for the junior high team.

Junior Kinslee Mims and sophomore Katelyn Ramsey will start on the right side, while junior Mallory Mitchell and junior Misha Carroll will play on the back row as defensive specialists.

Graham said Brantly Brasher, a freshman, would split time between the varsity and junior varsity squads. She can play the back row or outside hitter.

The Mustangs should be effective in two crucial areas: serving and returning serves.

“I think those are the two most important fundamentals of the game,” Graham said. “If you can’t serve, then you give the other team a point and the ball, and if you can’t receive, then the points add up pretty quick against you.”