Wilkes Central High School Athletics


Central looks to do big things in 2016


Wilkes Central Head Volleyball Coach Ashley Clonch spent most of last fall figuring out the best fit at each position as the Eagles finished with a 3-19 record. The third-year head coach is more confident with her lineup this fall and hopes that confidence will translate into wins and competitiveness in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference. “I think our conference is going to be very competitive this year. I think we’re going to fight for the top two or three spots and I’m excited about that,” said Clonch. “At this time last year, I wasn’t sure what we could do. Right now, I know we can do it because if we get that confidence that I know we have, we’re going to be hard to beat.” The Eagles, who are currently 3-5 this season following Thursday night’s MVAC opener, also spent a good portion of last season battling injuries and illness. But according to Clonch, she has a full roster of healthy players at her disposal after losing just two seniors from last year’s squad. She’s also been impressed with the team’s practices. “Everybody’s healthy. I’ve got 14 players so we’ve got good scrimmages going on in practice. Everybody’s wanting their playing time, which is tough with 14, but if you come out and give your whole heart at practice, there’s the possibility that you get to play so that’s making us better by good practices.” Middle hitters Allison Parker and Kailey McNeil headline the four seniors on this year’s Wilkes Central squad. A two-time All-MVAC honorable mention selection, Parker missed part of last season while battling an illness but is back to 100 percent this fall. McNeil was also an All-MVAC honorable mention selection last year. Brooke McNeil and Molly Brown also return for their senior seasons. “They (Parker and Kailey McNeil) have improved a great deal on the front row and back row and our team is anchored by them. We have four seniors who are very competitive and want to win,” said Clonch. “Brooke has shown great versatility this summer. She has stepped in and been a dominant passer to, coming in and playing front row with consistency. “Molly moved to the right side last year and has been a dominant blocker,” added Clonch. “She played JO this offseason and has improved greatly on her hitting.” Clonch is also looking for contributions from her nine-player junior class. Junior outside hitters Jordan Ellis and Holly Swofford, who joined the team after missing most of the early part of 2015 with an ankle injury, are back after playing varsity last season. “Both played up as sophomores as outsides last year. They have both grown as hitters and are understanding the game more and more each day,” said Clonch. Moving up from JV last season are juniors Meredith Clawson, Carley Hamby and Kelsey Call. Clonch feels all three “will be great assets on the back row.” Bre Adams, Katelyn Noland and Katelyn Glen are three other juniors up from last year’s JV team. The trio can play on the front or back row and Clonch says “they adjust well to any situation.” Junior Lacey Triplett and sophomore Tori Fowler split time on varsity last season. Triplett is slated to be the team’s libero while Fowler is expected to occupy the setter position and Clonch knows that they’ll help control the pace on offense. Triplett is currently injured and her timetable to return is not known. “Lacey came up midseason from JV to set after she was moved to libero on JV but I look to move her to libero full time,” said Clonch. “Tori saw some varsity action last year but will set full-time this year. She has made great strides this summer and she will lead this offense.” Assistant coaches Jessica Dice and Maggie Walker join Clonch on the bench this season