Youth movement hits Red Devil volleyball

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Sports

August 25, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Nicole Rockhold and Andrea Miller are a minority only in numbers for the 2010 Allen County Community College Red Devil volleyball team.
The Red Devils have Rockhold and Miller to draw from as leaders on and off the court this season. The two sophomores bring experience from last year’s 21-18 team that played in the playoffs.
“Nicole and Andrea are very solid players and are strong leaders for us. They have taken our freshmen under their wings and helping them understand what it takes to be successful at this level,”  said Jessica Peters, ACCC head coach.
The Red Devils open the 2010 season this weekend at the Butler Community College Invitational in El Dorado.
Peters is in her fourth year as head coach after one year as assistant coach. Peters is a former ACCC player (2002-03).
Joining Peters’ coaching staff is another former Red Devil player. Whitney Falkenstien played under Peters in 2007 and 2008 then played two years at Ottawa University.
“Having Whitney back as a coach is great. We’re on the same page because she knows how our system works here,” Peters said.
Falkenstien said she was excited about coming in as an assistant coach. She enjoyed playing at ACCC and “wanted to learn coaching skills.” Falkenstien is finishing her college degree online at Pittsburg State University.
Also on the coaching staff is Todd Francis. Francis has been an assistant coach 11 years at ACCC.
“We all work well with each other and that gives players a sense of teamwork from us,” Peters said.
With Rockhold and Miller as the core of the team, Peters is building from there out. She said she was planning to have some rotations to make sure “we separate Nicole and Andrea with one on the front row and one on the back. It will give us stability on the court.”
Rockhold brought it hard as a freshman, leading the Red Devils in kills last year with 397 from her outside hitter spot. She had 25 blocks at the net plus served up 21 aces. She was third on the team in digs with 516.
Rockhold earned second-team honors on the 2009 All-Jayhawk Eastern Division Volleyball team. She also received All-Region VI, Division II, District N honors.
Miller came on strong midway through the season. As a middle hitter and blocker, Miller was second in blocks for the Red Devils with 74.
Miller had 253 kills, which was third on the team. She had 26 service aces and 119 digs.
Rockhold is 5-8 and from Oskaloosa and Miller is 6-1 and from Emporia. Both were awarded NJCAA All-Academic honors as six Red Devil players earned fall academic team honors last year.
Freshmen on the team are 5-8 Karlee Bobbitt of Belton, Mo., 5-7 Casey Droddy of Princeton, 5-6 Makhala Giardina of Topeka, 5-8 Shelby Greenwood of Iola, 5-9 Allison Jenicke of Kansas City, Kan., 5-7 Erika Mack of Raytown, Mo., 5-8 Leesha Plagens of Clinton, Ark., 5-7 Nicole Reed of Bonner Springs and 5-3 Morgan Scott of Ozawkie.
Carlee Campbell, a 6-1 middle hitter from Prescott, suffered a season-ending knee injury in preseason practice.
“We’re young and it’s going to take some time on the court in matches for us to learn to work together. We’re not very big, especially in the middle now that Carlee is out,” Peter said.
“But these young ladies have come in here and worked hard for us. We may not have the skills yet as other teams but we have players with a lot of heart and desire to succeed as a team.”
Working at the setter position are Mack, Droddy and Bobbitt. Peters said the Red Devils will run a 6-2 offense using two setters.
“Erika has shown herself as a leader on the court with her knowledge of the game. She has nice hands and puts the ball where it needs to be. She is a right-side setter,” Peters said.
Droddy also is working the right-side spot. Peters said Droddy is left-handed which gives a different spin on things.
Bobbitt is a good communicator, setting off the back row, Peters said.
“Growing into positions is something we will see from all of our freshmen this year. We have a wide variety of skill level,” Peters said.
“The pace of the game is something every freshman has to learn. Our players have learned a lot in the past two weeks. They are coming in here and competing hard in practice.”
Outside hitters for the Red Devils will be Jenicke, Giardina and Greenwood. Jenicke has the skills to fall in behind Rockhold.
Giardina will get there as she brings an aggressiveness to the net. Greenwood is competing well in practice and “once we speed up her approach, she’ll be tough at the net,” Peter said.
“We have versatility among our hitters so they can hit outside and from the right side.”
Plagens has stepped up to help in the middle. Peters said Plagens is working to understand the position and is working well.
Reed and Scott are the Red Devils’ defensive specialists. Reed brings a strong back-row attack and is aggressive with passes. Scott is very vocal on the back row.
“Morgan was voted as a team captain along with our  two sophomores,” Peters said.
“We always want to be known for our defensive ability and Nicole Reed and Morgan give us good back row play. We’re a team that is going to leave it all out on the court each time we play.”
Allen County’s home opener is Monday against Longview Community College. First serve is 6:30 p.m.
The Red Devils host Kansas City, Kan., in Jayhawk Eastern Division play  next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
The annual Allen County Invitational is Sept. 4. The matches will be played at Iola High School because it has two courts.
Allen County went 6-5 in Jayhawk East play last year, finishing in a tie for sixth with Butler Community College.
The Red Devils compete in NJCAA Division II volleyball.

Allen County Community College
2010 Volleyball Schedule

Aug. 27-28 — Butler tournament
Aug. 30 — Longview, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 1 — Kansas City, Kan., 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 4 — Allen County Invitational, Iola High School, TBA
Sept. 8 — Labette, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 10-11 — Highland tournament
Sept. 13 — Butler, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 15 — Fort Scott, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 22 — Highland, 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 24-25 — Hesston tournament
Sept. 29 — Independence, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 — Ottawa University triangular
Oct. 4 — Johnson County, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 — Neosho County, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 8-9 — Central CC, Columbus, Neb.
Oct. 11 — Longview, 6 p.m.
Oct. 13 — Cowley County, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 — NEO, Miami, Okla., 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 — Cottey College, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 — Hesston, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 27 — Coffeyville, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 6-7 — Region VI tourney
Home matches in bold.

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