By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Like so many area volleyball teams this season, Shady Spring doesn’t have a big presence in the middle.
Six-footer Kaylee Dickenson graduated and took a lot of blocks and kills with her.
The Tigers are making do, however, with a very respectable, if none-too-tall, front line.
Seniors Rhea Eisenman, Mckenzie Severt and Brooke Walker are proving themselves as leaders as well as big hitters.
Eisenman is the primary setter, but she also is a proven opposite hitter. Severt has become a force, whether as a hitter or blocker, while Walker, a lefty, is pounding the ball.
“They’ve stepped up as captains and leaders of the team,” coach Adrienne Brellahan said. “They are vocal and communicate well.”
Eisenman is a standout as a setter and opposite hitter. She has stepped up in her setting as well as her hitting and blocking.
Severt plays the middle and is excelling there, as was evident in the Tigers’ close 2-1 loss Tuesday at county rival Independence. At times she owned the front row against the likewise-talented Patriots.
“Mckenzie has improved her consistency and power in her hitting and serving,” Brellahan said.
Walker is more consistent in her hitting, but has also given help in the back row.
Alaina Wood and Taylor Durham are juniors in their final season with the Tigers. They’ll both graduate a year early.
“They deserve recognition for their academic achievements as well as their athletic ones,” Brellahan said.
Wood sets when Eisenman is hitting on the front row. She gets to the ball quickly and her sets are accurate.
Durham is another outside hitter, but she can play all the way around. She’s smart with her hitting and can find the holes.
Both Severt and Durham have deadly jump serves.
Softball standout Alexis Coalson moved into the libero position this year, replacing the graduated Whitney Farruggia. Brellahan said Coalson rarely lets a ball touch the floor.
“Alexis hustles and sacrifices herself to get that perfect pass,” she said.
Two other juniors are making strides on the court. Kelsea Collins plays the middle and at opposite hitter, while Kelly can get the job done at either outside or opposite hitter. Both have powerful hits and can block.
Freshman Taylor Walker rounds out the Shady Spring varsity. She can hit anywhere on the court and find holes, and she blocks well on her own as well as with other blockers.
Junior Nicole Fama and sophomores Kaitlyn Wells and Samantha Stewart key the Tigers’ solid JV program.
Brellahan believes her team is moving in the right direction.
“We are improving in the areas we needed: serving, receiving, defense and consistency,” she said. “The girls play well as a team and we have our sights set high as the end of the season approaches.”
The Tigers return to action this week with home matches against Independence Tuesday and Oak Hill Thursday.
— E-mail: dstillwell@