Friday, October 7, 2022

Maxwell Volleyball: Coming back strong

The Maxwell Panther Volleyball team will look to repeat as champions in 2022.

Last season, the Panthers finished 18-5 overall, going on a five-game win streak to bring home the inaugural Northern Section Division VII title.

Hoping to build upon that success, Maxwell will rely on several key veterans from its championship run, along with its new added group of varsity players.

Leading the way in 2022 is junior Emma Hendrix, an All-Five Star League pick last year, who paced the squad with 107 kills and 20 blocks, and will again serve as one of the Panthers’ setters.

Another returning starter is libero Bailee Haywood, the team leader in digs with 179, and now in her junior season, looks even more comfortable in that role.

A pair of seniors in Jocelyn Lazarus and Sydnee Wilson will be counted upon to play important roles as well, with Lazarus packing a punch as an outside hitter and Wilson with a powerful serve that accounted for 32 aces in 2021.

Sophomore Fatima Cano will be a major factor in the middle, given her height and reach, and as a result should increase the Panthers’ efficiency on the attack and the block.

Making their varsity debuts this season will be juniors Shelby Dunlap, Ava Barrett, Ryann Dennis, and Kennidy Moss.

Dunlap will set in the Panther’s 6-2 system, while Dennis is another option at middle, and Barrett and Moss will see time on the outside.

With the new season comes a new league, as Maxwell makes the move to the Mid-Valley conference, pitting them against county rival Williams in addition to Biggs, CORE Butte, Hamilton City, and Los Molinos.

While the Panthers played each of those teams last season, the main advantage to the switch is that they will not have to make the long treks to play “mountain schools” in Burney, Chester, and Happy Camp.

Coach Ashley Krug returns for her third year at the helm, and while she likes her team’s versatility, she will be fine-tuning the rotation as the preseason gets underway.

“Our strengths are our athleticism and the fact that the girls are familiar with our system,” Krug said.  “We have lots of options and are trying to get it figured out.”

Krug has shown an ability to get the most out of her team, and if the reigning champs continue to develop as anticipated, there is a high probability that they are playing for a second straight Division VII title come November.

Maxwell is scheduled to host Elk Creek tonight, and then travels to Upper Lake on Aug. 16 before returning home to face Williams on Aug. 18.

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