2014 KENTUCKY STANDARD VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: Generals trying to bounce back

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Thomas Nelson volleyball preview

By Dennis George

Thomas Nelson returns only two seniors from last year’s 4-25 volleyball team, but coach Kelli Spalding is hopeful that the Generals can take another step forward as the program continues to develop.


Those two seniors each have four years of volleyball experience, including three on the varsity level at Thomas Nelson.

Multi-sport athlete Evelyn Tichenor and Amanda Thurman are both big hitters and blockers.

“Their leadership and volleyball knowledge will be very beneficial to the team’s success,” Spalding said.

Thurman said she likes what she sees in practice.

“Things are looking good so far,” she said. “Last year we had trouble finishing games. It’s my job as a senior to be the type of player that other girls will look up to.”

She added that she hopes to improve her own game as she looks to play at the collegiate level.

“I am working hard because I would like to get a scholarship and play somewhere in college. I have been playing club volleyball too.”

Spalding is also high on Danielle McDonnell, saying, “She will be big on the front row.” She described the junior as a strong hitter who has a good block.

Fellow junior Hope Spalding, the coach’s daughter, is the team’s setter.

“She has great energy and is solid all the way around,” her mother said.

Spalding is confident she will get good performances on the back row from juniors Cassie Mattingly and Erika Clark. They both have exceptional quickness and a good knowledge of the game.

Sophomores Laken Culver and Brooklyn Ballard saw limited varsity action a year ago, but Spalding says their playing time will increase this year.

“They are both great hitters and passers,” she said. “Both of these girls bring lots of enthusiasm to the court.”

Other players returning for varsity play for the Generals include junior Taryn Roby, a top server, and sophomore Karina Thomas, a defensive standout.

Two newcomers who Spalding will depend upon are junior Kelsey Cooke and sophomore Maddie Spalding. The coach said Cooke has a great hit while Spalding is a great defensive player.

As the season approaches, Spalding says she wants her team to show improvement and will build off its impressive performance from last year’s nail-biter loss to a strong Bardstown team in the district tournament.

“These young ladies have a lot of potential and will do great if they come out and give a strong performance,” Spalding said. “They need to rely on each other and learn to play as a team.

Morgan Roby, who was a standout at Nelson County in her playing days, has joined the staff.

“She brings a level of volleyball knowledge, having played herself,” Spalding said. “She also brings lots of excitement and energy to our program.”

Goals for this season are to build confidence, finish strong and have a good performance in the district tournament.

“I look for great things from this varsity team,” Spalding said.