The Chronicle’s 2018 All-Area Volleyball Team: Versatility Leads the Way
Prep Volleyball: All-Area Team Comprised of All-Around Athletes
By Jordan Nailon
The best high school volleyball players all tend to have one thing in common — They can’t tell you what their favorite part of the game is. They just live to compete.
Talk to the members of The Chronicle’s 2018 All-Area volleyball team, and their coaches and one starts to see how that plays out on the court. Typically the team’s most impactful players leave their mark on all facets of the game, even beyond the counting statistics. For instance, most of the players on this year’s All-Area team finished first or second on their team in classic stats like kills, assists, serving percentage and aces. Just as importantly, though, the area’s best players find ways to galvanize the efforts of everyone around them.
This year’s All-Area volleyball team is headlined by Mossyrock junior outside hitter, Andee Nelson who helped the Vikings make their way back to the state title game against the projections of all the experts. Nelson was joined on the team by fellow Viking Heather Edgar, along with Central 2B foes Carly King of Morton-White Pass, Olivia Alegria of Napavine, and Eryn Duryea of Onalaska. Representatives from the 2A ranks include Mak Moore and Paytton Crawford of W.F. West, as well as Lexie Jones-Sederberg of Rochester.
On her way to All-Area MVP honors Nelson compiled 29 aces, 37 assists, 228 kills, and 243 digs. Her steady performance all over the court helped Mossyrock claim second in the Central 2B League and a runner-up finish at state despite graduating much of their team from last season.
“If we needed a kill and she was in the front row we were going to go to her. This was definitely her best hitting year, by far. She put the ball away, and at big times too. She just played big in big games and that’s what you want from your big time players,” said Mossyrock coach, and Andee’s mom, Alex Nelson.
Coach Nelson noted that player Nelson has gleaned plenty of experience during her time on the court for Mossyrock, which has ended each of her first three seasons with a second place finish at state. Those battles have turned Nelson into an on-court leader that any coach would love to have and earned her first team all Central 2B League recognition this season.
“I think that’s one of her strengths. The reason that she’s a great player is not only that she does great things in volleyball but also because she’s a great leader. She’s very confident and she helps the other players to gain confidence. She not only affects her part of the game but other people too,” said Coach Nelson.
As a senior middle backer Heather Edgar also put up a monster season for Mossyrock finishing with 39 aces, 185 digs, 165 kills, and 90 blocks, 82 of which were the solo variety. Edgar was tabbed as a second team Central 2B player this season.
“To do what she has done as an all-around player is very impressive,” said Nelson, who noted that Edgar turned in multiple 20 dig games at state this year.
What makes her case particularly fascinating is that she was not always a true “starter” for the Vikings.
“We have our starting lineup but if we thought that Heather could make the best hitter on the other team uncomfortable if she could block them once or twice then we would adjust our lineup so that she would match up,” said Nelson. She explained that Edgar had a special knack for neutralizing particular players by forcing them to hit around her or to make uncharacteristic errors for fear of getting their shots sent right back from whence they came.
“She was just a huge presence as a blocker and that’s your first line of defense,” said Nelson. “Those are huge momentum plays. She did that consistently all season long.”
In the season’s first 12 games Eryn Duryea, a junior from Onalaska, tallied 164 kills, 377 digs and a 92 percent successful serving percentage. Those totals included a game-high of 27 kills and 10 blocks.
“She is an excellent leader. She’s been a team captain both her sophomore and junior year. She’s played club volleyball since she was in middle school so she’s been around the game and she truly loves it,” said Onalaska coach Terri Dalsted.
Dalsted noted that Duryea was just a few votes shy of taking home All-League MVP honors and said it’s her passion that gives her an extra edge on the court.
“She leads in everything offensively and defensively. She just leads by example and her teammates can really feel that vibe and aspire to be like her,” said Dalsted. “It doesn’t matter who her teammates are or where their skill level is. She’s always about building them up.”
Onalaska and Napavine both finished with 5-5 records in league and, like the Loggers, the Tigers were heavily dependant upon their most experienced player. It was through that workload that Olivia Alegria, Napavine’s senior libero, was able to play her way onto the All-Area team despite what has to be considered to be a down year for the program. This year she totalled 427 digs, 41 kills, and 47 aces on a 87.4 percent successful serving percentage.
“She’s a serious player. She’s a perfectionist and she takes pride in her passing,” said Napavine coach Monica Dailey. “She’s a hard worker and she has high expectations for both herself and her teammates.”
While many observers predicted some struggles for Napavine this year due to high turnover on their roster, Dailey says that Alegria never allowed that sort of talk to contaminate the team’s well. As a result, Alegria received first-team all-league honors as voted on by coaches.
“She’s always just kind of led by example in the past. This year she took a little bit more ownership in that role as a leader and really tried to step up and be what her team needed her to be this year. She tried to play unselfishly and give her teammates bigger roles,” said Dailey. She added that this year Alegria felt she was most useful this year as a facilitator passing the ball rather than trying to garner headlines with kill stats.
“That takes a lot of maturity. Because everyone wants to be a hitter. They’re the ones who get all the accolades. For her, being a libero, she’s in a supporting role and a lot of times the passers and setters get overlooked in the success of a team,” said Dailey, who credited Alegria for helping younger players like Vannie Fagerness and Rae Sisson to come into their own. “She did a great job of taking them under her wing and was very supportive of them as sophomores and first time varsity players.”
Carly King, a senior setter and outside hitter for Morton-White Pass, was the final representative on the All-Area team from the Central 2B League. She also netted first-team all-league honors this season while dishing 560 assists, hitting 120 kills, and collecting 48 aces on a 94 percent successful serving percentage.
“She’s so volleyball smart. She knows where the next play should be made. She’s a really good leader out there,” said MWP coach Tammy Kelly. “She can make things that aren’t that pretty look really good. She’s got really good hands and she’s athletic. She certainly makes my job easier knowing that she’s going to make good decisions out there.”
As a former club volleyball player, where she played libero, King is familiar with most of the players on the All-Area team either through league rivalries or off-season competition. She noted that her team always seemed to have trouble with Onalaska and they were always extra motivated to beat Napavine. Rumor has it that the T-Wolves picked up extra incentive to best the Tigers last year after a Napavine coach used the MWP team towels to mop up the floor.
Although there is no official All-Area coach of the year designation, King said there is no doubt that Napavine’s Dailey is the loudest coach in the year. That’s a designation that the rest of the highly competitive Central 2B League would likely agree with.
King says that the stout competition of the C2B League gives its teams an advantage as they progress through the playoffs. Case in point – This year, after finishing fifth in the league MWP was able to come within one win of placing at the state tournament.
“I feel like we’re a lot tougher,” said King. “It’s nice to have a harder league because when we get to state we know that we have a good shot against anybody.”
This year MWP played several teams from larger classifications, like Hoquiam and Montesano, and over the years King has become familiar with the talented pool that the local 2A schools have stashed away. She says the key to success doesn’t have as much to do with the size of the players at the school but the size of the heart in the players.
“You’ve got to want to be good and put in the extra time,” said King. “Everyone who was selected for this team has put in extra effort to be here.”
One player that King has shared the court with is Mak Moore from W.F. West back when they were sweating it up for the L.C. Spikers. During the league schedules this year Moore, a senior outside hitter, racked up 132 kills, 25 aces and 123 digs.
Moore’s coach at W.F. West, Emily Mora, said that it was impressive to see how much Moore was able to improve from her junior year to her senior campaign. That improvement vaulted Moore onto the first team for the 2A Evergreen Conference.
“She had a year or playing that same role for us and just to see that new level of confidence, she was extremely confident this year and it showed up in her stats and her defense,” said Mora. “She was always just going for it which was awesome.”
Paytton Crawford, a junior setter for the Bearcats, joined Moore on the All-Area team and wound up on the second unit of the 2A EvCo team. During W.F. West’s league schedule Crawford compiled 236 assists, 74 digs, 27 kills and 11 aces.
Mora said Crawford was quick to step up and fill a void in on court leadership and acted as catalyst for the team.
“Paytton stepped up for our team in a major way. I thought that she did a really good job of stepping into that role. She’s really, really competitive by nature so I think she saw that as a great challenge for herself. It definitely didn’t take any coaxing on my part,” said Mora. “She’s going to do whatever she thinks we need to get that point. Whether that’s diving into the bleachers or setting a certain rotation. It’s whatever gets us the point.”
In Rochester it was Lexie Jones-Sederberg who played her way onto the All-Area team by collecting 85 kills, 126 digs, 14 stuff blocks and seven assists during league play. She was also tabbed as a second-team member of the All-2A EvCo squad.
“One thing about Lexie is she plays all the way around so she gets a lot of hits in the back row as well,” said Rochester coach Wendy Hawes, who came away with co-Coach of the year honors in the 2A EvCo this year.
Unlike many demonstrative volleyball players, Jones-Sederberg typically lets her play speak for itself. Hawes says her value is not overlooked by her teammates, though, as she was voted MVP of the Warriors this season by her peers.
“She’s super quiet. Super consistent.She’s just steady eddy and never changes her emotion really,” said Hawes. “She’s just a very all around consistent player. She was our go-to player.”