Jonathan Alder senior Emma Shepherd goes up for a kill against Columbus Bishop Hartley. Although the Lady Pioneers fell to the Hawks in the Division II regional semifinals at Heath High School, 2018 marked a successful season for the program.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
Although Jonathan Alder’s volleyball season came to a disappointing end late last week, the Lady Pioneers can look back on the campaign with satisfaction.
JA fell in four sets to Columbus Bishop Hartley during last Thursday’s Division II regional semifinal match at Heath High School.
Still, it was a successful season that ended with a second consecutive Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division championship and a 22-5 record.
“The season really went better than we expected,” said head coach Kim Hayes. “We just improved so much in every facet of our game as the season progressed.”
The high point of the campaign came when JA, the third-seeded squad, defeated top-seeded Highland for the district championship.
“That was the pinnacle of our season,” said Hayes. “The girls worked hard and really deserved to win the district championship.”
Hayes said she liked how the team, which was a mixture of veterans and youngsters, came together as the season went along.
“They formed a very tight bond and they treated each other as family,” she said.
The Lady Pioneers were led by three athletes who have committed to continuing their careers on the collegiate level.
Senior 6-2 hitter Corinne Parker, will play at Coastal Carolina, while classmate Kourtney Reynolds, also a hitter at 6-3, is headed toward Florida Gulf Coast.
Sophomore Ava Francis, a 6-0 outside hitter, has already verbally committed to the University of Arizona. She can sign with the Pac 12 school as a junior.
Additional seniors were libero Hunter Kaltenbach, outside hitter Kayleigh Hall, setter Abby Jester and defensive specialists Sydney Beard and Hunter Larison.
“We’re losing a lot of great seniors,” admitted Hayes. “They were leaders both on and off the court.
“It’s going to be hard to replace them.”
Still, the Alder coach feels she has a strong nucleus coming back for the 2019 season.
“We’ve got some solid players returning next year,” she said. “All of my girls play club volleyball and that will help them improve their skills.”
Hayes also has several off-season activities planned for the program.
“We will do our sand training on the courts in Plain City next summer,” she said. “By doing that last year, we really improved the vertical jumps of a lot of our players.
“We will also compete in the Olentangy Summer League that will be held at Liberty High School.
“This was a good season in that it was a good building block for the future,” said Hayes. “We’ve got a lot of younger girls who have shown interest in attending our off-season camp.
“This team captured the attention and support of the entire Jonathan Alder community.”
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