It was the kind of volleyball season Venice has come to expect.

It was the kind of volleyball season Lemon Bay has never seen.

It was the kind of volleyball season Charlotte didn’t know it had in it.

Those three programs made strong postseason runs this fall and, as a result, dominate this year’s Daily Sun All-Area first and second teams.

Venice went 22-9 and won its 20th consecutive district title. It’s a virtually unheard-of brand of dominance. While Venice will be losing several key members of a team that reached the regional finals, it will be restocked from a junior varsity team that went undefeated.

Lemon Bay tied a record for most wins while setting a mark for fewest losses during its 26-3 run to its own regional finals berth. With a squad rich in front-line bangers, the Mantas have created a foundation for sustained success.

Charlotte entered the season without a clear idea where its hitting was going to come from. They never really did find an answer but along the way, the Tarpons discovered they could win by outlasting and frustrating their foes. By coming up with a key kill or block when needed, the Tarpons won a district title and reached the region semifinals.

Port Charlotte welcomed a new coach and spent the season finding its future. DeSoto County’s promising season was short-circuited by a raft of injuries, but a talented group of underclassmen emerged. North Port also found itself seeking the next big thing among its large influx of youth.

Imagine made a little history when one of its players became the first student-athlete in school history to earn a Division I athletic scholarship.

All in all, it was the kind of volleyball season that will be remembered.

Three finalists for The Daily Sun volleyball player of the year will be announced in spring with the winner being named at the All-Area Banquet at school year’s end.

FIRST TEAMBROOKE ANDREWS SENIOR, LEMON BAY

Behind the Mantas’ dominant front row stood Andrews, a defensive specialist and expert digger. Andrews led Lemon Bay with 271 digs and was second on the team in assists and aces.

IRELAND FERGUSON SENIOR, VENICE

A member of Venice’s varsity since her freshman season, Ferguson has been a do-it-all, “glue” presence, lining up wherever needed. She has been a defensive specialist who leads the team in digs, a dead-eyed outside hitter and a setter with a deft touch on assists.

PADEN KELLER SENIOR, VENICE

A year ago, Keller earned a first-team, all-area nod for her penchant to come up big in Venice’s biggest games. That didn’t change during her senior season. Case in point: When Venice fell behind by a set in the district title match against Gulf Coast, she opened the second set with a pair of kills and a pair of blocks, triggering a 3-1 win.

SERENA KOHLER SENIOR, IMAGINE

The Sharks’ dominating middle hitter became the school’s first-ever Division I signee in any sport when she put her signature on a letter-of-intent to play at Oral Roberts. That came shortly after recording her 1,000th career kill.

KRISTEN LOWERS SENIOR, CHARLOTTE

Lowers displayed plenty of versatility as an opposite hitter and setter. In addition to leading the team in kills, she served up a team-leading 30 aces and was top-five among Tarpons in blocks, digs and assists.

KENDALL STEINERT SENIOR, LEMON BAY

The do-it-all Bob Jones University commit might have been the area’s very best distributor in her lone season with the Mantas. Steinert passed out a whopping 795 assists as a setter and knocked home 70 aces at the service line. She also came in handy on defense, where her 236 digs trailed only Andrews.

ALEX VEGA SENIOR, CHARLOTTE

As she was during her junior season when she earned second-team, all-area honors, Vega was the very definition of a libero for the Tarpons this season. The team’s heart and soul, she led from the back row, diving her way 331 digs.

SECOND TEAMLEAH BARTLETT JUNIOR, VENICE

After making an instant impact as a sophomore, Bartlett excelled alongside Keller as a junior. She recorded a career-best 24 kills in a match against Cardinal Mooney.

TAYLOR ORRIS SOPHOMORE, LEMON BAY

The middle hitter was Lemon Bay’s best blocker (57), recording blocks in 25 of Lemon Bay’s 29 matches.

ASHLEY REYNOLDS JUNIOR, VENICE

All the best teams have a difference-maker at setter and Venice is no different. Reynolds will enter her senior year as a key cog in the Indians’ district title-making machine.

OCEAN ROTH SOPHOMORE, LEMON BAY

The outside hitter did a little of everything for the Mantas, ranking among the top five in kills, digs, assists and aces.

ANDREA STELLWAG SENIOR, NORTH PORT

There’s a reason why Stellwag – a 2020 all-area, second-teamer – is listed as an outside hitter, defensive specialist and libero. She led the team in aces and digs while finishing second on the Bobcats in kills.

MORGAN WILLIS JUNIOR, PORT CHARLOTTE

Willis moved around on the floor for the Pirates, playing opposite, outside and as a defensive specialist. She led the Pirates in kills and was top-five in digs, blocks and assists

BROOKE ZOLKOS SENIOR, DESOTO COUNTY

An overachieving utility player on the injury-riddled Bulldogs, Zolkos led DeSoto in kills, digs and assists and was second on the team in aces.

COACH OF THE YEARPAT AUER LEMON BAY

The Mantas’ breakthrough season wasn’t so much a breakthrough for Auer as it was the culmination of a project. With all the pieces in place this season, Auer didn’t tinker or tailor – he just let the Mantas cook. By sticking with the Mantas’ strength – hitting – no matter the opponent, Lemon Bay achieved singular success this season.

1
0
0
0
0

Load comments