ORANGE PARK - Ridgeview High had some new faces up front in their preseason opener against Orange Park and looked as strong as ever as coach Destiny Brightman attempts an historically fifth straight district volleyball title albeit in a new districts.
With 3-0 wins over Orange Park and Clay in their preseason tournament hosted by Ridgeview High School, the Panthers got big power plays from newcomers Elaina Reynolds and Shaniede Steer, who returned to Ridgeview with a fervor. Steer was at Ridgeview for her freshman year, then lived in Hawaii before returning for her senior year.
"This is my home," said Steer.
Brightman was optimistic that her young squad stepped up in their first varsity matches.
"Both Elaina and Teeya Desgoutee are sophomores who are very vital to the starting rotation," said Brightman, who opens with an away game at 7A-Mandarin on Tues., Aug. 20 with their first home match on Thurs., Aug. 22 against St. Augustine. "Our libero, Ashlyn Halford, was out with a sprained ankle."
Also at the Ridgeview tournament, Keystone Heights, Clay and Oakleaf were competing with the Indians being led by new coach Miranda Knox, a former Wilkinson Junior High athletic director.
For the Lady Indians, who open regular season play at Bradford County on Thurs., Aug. 22 with the home opener against Branford on Thurs., Aug. 29, returners Madison Heskett and Emily Loose powered from the net; both near six footers.
"Emily and Madison are a force working together on the court," said Knox. Della and JulieAnna did a great job on defense and serving."
Knox noted her Lady Indians middle defense will need to work harder to feed the front net players.
"We need to get our middles involved more and anticipate the attack to really get things moving," said Knox.
For Clay, under coach Lauren Smeltzer, the Lady Blue Devils got strong net play from Khalia
Thompson and Mackenzie Wright leading the charge with Makella Riggs adding scoring shots.
"We have a lot of new players and I feel that the girls played well together," said Clay coach Lauren Smeltzer. "The match against Ridgeview showed some areas we need to clean up and improve, but I was also pleased to see that some areas we were weak in two week prior to the tournament are much improved and worked well for us."
Oakleaf was led by Bryanna Parrett and Jalana Hope up front with senior Dejah Johnson getting feeds to the net.
Orange Park got net play from Lauren Ellis with Macie Faucett handling the defensive duties.
Clay opens at home with Terry Parker on Tues., Aug. 27 with Oakleaf opening on Tues., Aug. 20 with Baker County and at St. Johns Country Day School on Thurs., Aug. 22.
Tues., Aug. 27 vs. Terry Parker
Thurs., Aug. 29 at Fletcher
Tues., Sept. 3 vs. Ponte Vedra
Thurs., Sept. 5 vs. Matanzas
Thurs., Aug 22 at SJCDS
Thurs., Aug. 29 vs. Fleming Island
Tues., Sept. 10 vs. Ridgeview
Tues., Aug. 20 at Mandarin
Thurs., Aug. 22 vs. St. Augustine
Tues., Aug. 27 vs. Creekside
Thurs., Aug. 29 vs. Bolles
Thurs., Aug. 22 at Bradford
Tues., Aug. 27 vs. Branford
Thurs. Aug. 29 at Baker County
Tues., Aug. 20 at St. Augustine
Thurs., Aug. 22 vs. Bishop Snyder
Mon., Aug. 26 at First Coast
Tues., Aug. 27 vs. Palatka
Thurs., Aug. 29 at SJCDS