(Final of a two-part preview of Farragut-area high school volleyball teams)
Bearden Lady Bulldogs
Seven returning starters — four earning district honors for their play in 2020 — provide a strong core for Bearden High School volleyball, raising hopes for impressive runs in District 4-AAA league and tournament play this season.
“I’m very excited for what our season should hold,” said head coach Erin Biddle, in her fourth season running the BHS program. “I do have a lot of experienced players back.
“I do expect us to be sharp defensively,” the coach added.
Senior libero Marissa McMahon and junior Alyssa Campbell, outside hitter, were All-District honorees last season; junior Alina Turwoski, middle hitter, was named District Defensive Player of the Year in 2020; and sophomore Anne Claire Myers, a right-side/middle hitter, was named District Rookie of the Year as a freshman.
About Campbell’s move from middle hitter to the outside, “I’m excited to see how explosive she can be,” Biddle said.
“Marissa McMahon has really stepped up. … She’s brought a little bit more of a voice to the team this year,” she added. “Melena Robinson (senior outside hitter) has been a consistent player.”
Senior Jadyn Watkins has been versatile, Biddle said, but will be a setter in 2021.
“Jadyn Watkins really does a great job of making the team united,” the coach added.
Another returnee is junior Anna Lynn Harms, setter/defensive specialist.
Senior Hannah Claire Stephens, an outside hitter, “hasn’t played (volleyball) since the eighth grade,” Biddle said. “A super athletic kid.”
Webb School Lady Spartans
A new era begins in 2021 for Webb School of Knoxville volleyball: a new league and a new head coach.
Ellen McGill takes the reins for the Lady Spartans, a powerhouse program in the Volunteer State lately, winning six consecutive Division II-A state titles from 2013 through 2018.
Webb moves up to Division II-AA and will compete against some of the state’s top teams. “We’ll be a really scrappy team,” McGill said. “We have a lot of great kids, and the overall culture at Webb makes it a place where you want to coach.”
Top returners feature Lennox Langham (a freshman outside hitter who started as an eighth-grader while named Division II-A East Region District 1 Rookie of the Year; she also won both the state long jump and triple jump last spring, and is a national champ in beach volleyball in the 14-and-under age class).
Esha Ramjee was the district’s Most Improved Player.
Also key are Eva Muresan (sophomore, outside hitter/middle block); Mason Dunlap (senior, outside hitter/right-side); A.C. Maddox (senior, libero); Ashley Douglas (junior, right side); and Landyn Langham (sophomore, setter).
CAK Lady Warriors
With only three healthy returning starters, and inexperience everywhere, Mike Marcum is facing big challenges with his 2021 Christian Academy of Knoxville team.
“We had eight graduate late year; we lost the bulk of our team,” said Marcum, in his fourth season as head coach.
Among his four juniors “is a team leader who can’t play because of a broken finger,” the coach said about junior setter Anya Cotton, who apparently is out for the season.
Outside hitting appears to be strong with junior returnees Natalie Knight and Kate Rogers. Junior Claire Castleberry “is now learning how to set for the first time.”
“It’s going to be a teaching, rebuilding season this year.”
KCS Lady Knights
Though a new member of TSSAA, Knoxville Christian School will not be eligible for post-season play in 2021.
“We’re really excited to get the opportunity to move up to TSSAA,” said head coach Walter Brock, in his third straight year at KCS, fourth overall.
“I’ve got a young team.”
Four starters return. “I’ve got my leading hitter and passer coming back,” the coach said of senior co-captain, and daughter, Karson Brock, an outside hitter who had 297 kills last season for a 16-5 team.
Junior co-captain Kiria Smith is a right-side/outside hitter. Freshman Yeshi Hammann, libero, played as a eighth-grader. Ashton Chamblee, freshman middle/outside hitter, also returns.
Others to watch include freshman middle hitter Kaylee Bogoski, who has never played volleyball; freshman Kendra Price will be a setter; eighth-grader Savanah Dunham also will play setter; freshman Eden McNew looks to contribute.