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New-look Lady Statesmen aim to grow

The 2018 Randolph-Henry High School’s varsity girls volleyball team has four varsity returners and six players brought up from the junior varsity ranks, providing good opportunities to rebuild.

“We’ve got a lot of growing right now to do because we’ve got so many new players to the team, so now it’s just kind of figuring out where everybody’s best for the team, to play,” Head Coach Nikki Elder said.

This year, the Lady Statesmen feature two seniors, five juniors and three sophomores.

The team will miss a couple of key players due to graduation last school year.

“We lost one of our big middles, which was Kierra Jones,” Elder said.

But the coach noted that senior Morgan Mason filled that role nicely in preseason scrimmages, racking up blocks and kills.

“Annie Sandridge was one of our leading outside hitters as well, and she graduated last year,” Elder said. “But Leighan (Payne) is taking that spot, and she’s doing a great job for us so far.”

Mason and Michaela Miller are the two seniors on the roster this year.

“I expect a lot out of my two seniors as far as leadership goes, and Michaela’s kind of playing two roles right now,” Elder said. “She’s a great outside hitter, but she’s my strongest setter at the same time, so (I’m) trying to get my other setters to kind of come up to that so I can use her as an outside hitter.”

The coach said she is also looking for leadership from Payne, a junior.

Other contributors to the team this year include juniors Cassidy Russell, Pearl Sandridge, Vicie Southall and Sydney Williams and sophomores Abby Clements, Lilian Jubb and Annaleigh Lokker.