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Sun, Dec. 15

Prescott volleyball hopes to maintain momentum in 2012

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Prescott High School freshman outside hitter Raphael Temple works on her technique Tuesday afternoon during practice at PHS.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Prescott High School freshman outside hitter Raphael Temple works on her technique Tuesday afternoon during practice at PHS.

PRESCOTT - Over the past three seasons with coach Christa Stehower on the bench, the Prescott High volleyball team pieced together one of the program's most impressive runs.

In 2009, PHS registered a 27-3 overall record and reached the Class 4A, Division I state semifinals as the No. 3 seed.

In 2010, the Badgers one-upped themselves, compiling a stellar 30-2 mark to finish as the state runner-up. In fact, they rode a 19-match winning streak into the state title match before falling to fellow Western Sky Region member Phoenix Sunnyslope in straight sets.

And in 2011, despite graduating three instrumental starters from the 2010 squad in the off-season, Prescott advanced to the Division II state semifinals, where it succumbed to Phoenix Arcadia, the eventual tournament runner-up, in consecutive sets.

Whether the D-II, Section III Badgers can maintain their torrid pace this fall is anyone's guess with only three seniors on their roster.

However, first-year PHS coach Shellie Bowman, who took over for the departed Stehower this past off-season, is determined to work toward that goal.

"I think we'll be strong in our section, and I'm really hoping to get into postseason play," Bowman said this past week from practice. "I'm hoping by then that they'll have gelled together. They're talented enough to go far. It's just how we perform."

For 2012, Bowman - Stehower's assistant the past two years - said she has five returning players, including three starters, from last fall's sterling team.

Outside hitter Nicky Lyon (5-foot-10), middle blocker/setter Brette Anderson (6-0), middle hitter Courtney Crimmins (5-10), defensive specialist Keegan Dillon (5-6) and OH Sydney Koehler (5-8) are back to lead the Badgers. Lyon, Anderson and Crimmins all started.

Prescott lost five key players, including seasoned setter Taylar Rothfuss and OH Laraine Bonczek, to graduation in the spring.

But Bowman said she likes the talent and depth that the team has now.

"I pretty much have three people in each position that could take over and go in and do a good job," she said. "And some of those people can actually even play more than one position."

The Badgers' main objective is to work on their team chemistry since several of the girls are newcomers to the varsity roster.

On offense, PHS will turn to Lyon, a four-year letterman, and Koehler as its primary hitters.

At middle blocker, the Badgers are leaning on two JV call-ups in 6-foot-1 junior Maddy Delp-McCrady and sophomore Sierra Howard (5-10).

On defense, Dillon, who played libero last fall, returns as a defensive specialist this season. Sophomore Alissa Becker (5-0) and junior Taylor Satterlee (5-7) will also see time at DS/libero.

Anderson, who underwent back surgery in June, had been preparing to set for PHS, but she will not be ready to fill that role until she fully heals. In the meantime, the Badgers are counting on freshman Raphael Temple (5-11) and sophomore Amber Downs (5-3) as their setters.

Prescott begins the 2012 season at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bullhead City Mohave. The Badgers' home opener is at 6 p.m. Wednesday versus Kingman inside the PHS Dome.

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