Last year’s dominant, 35-0 season isn’t new to Flint Hill volleyball Coach Carrol DeNure. After all, it was the third time this decade that the Huskies did not lose even once in a season. But DeNure knows that type of performance only ignites opponents’ desire to beat her team.
“Every match that we play, the opponent is going to be gunning for us because of the type of year we had last year,” she said. “We have a target on our back. We have to be ready every time we step on the court and can’t take any team for granted.”
And the Huskies must do so without last year’s All-Met Player of the Year, Siron Hardy, who now plays at George Mason University.
“I don’t know if we can totally replace her,” DeNure admitted. “We’re hoping that instead of replacing her with one girl, we can be even more balanced than we were last year offensively.”
Some of those players who will lead the balanced attack include senior setter Krissy O’Malley, who has committed to Liberty University, and junior outside hitters Sydney Reed and Denver Pugh, who have committed to North Carolina and Oregon State, respectively.
The Huskies will compete against Battlefield in their season opener and then head to Loudoun Valley for a tournament. The season’s first few games will provide an opportunity for Flint Hill to measure itself against other teams and spot areas to improve.
“We haven’t lost a conference match since 2011,” DeNure said. “We don’t want to be the team that breaks that streak.”
Here are our top 10 rankings, which will update every week:
1. Flint Hill (Last year’s record: 35-0) Last ranked: 1
Setter Krissy O’Malley and outside hitters Sydney Reed and Denver Pugh will do their best to replace last year’s All-Met Player of the Year, Siron Hardy.
2. Northwest (19-0) LR: 2
Losing Janiece Jefferies to graduation hurts, but the Jaguars still have three-time All-Met player Jenaisya Moore, arguably the best player in Maryland. Moore will lead the team that has clinched three straight 4A state championships.
3. Loudoun County (28-3) LR: 3
The Raiders have started the season 2-0, including a 3-2 victory over Stone Bridge. New Coach John Senchak comes over from Tuscarora.
4. Holy Cross (29-3) LR: 8
The Tartans return a loaded team despite losing first-team All-Met player Jade Parchment, who now plays at N.C. State.
5. Langley (26-3) LR: 4
The Saxons lost six seniors who all started for last year’s state championship team, including Elena Shklyar and Allison Franke. Olivia Franke, Allison’s sister, will anchor the crew this fall.
6. Tuscarora (16-6) LR: 9
The Huskies swept Princess Anne in last year’s Virginia Class 5 state championship final.
7. Middleburg Academy (27-5) LR: 7
The Dragons cruised through the season before faltering to Peninsula Catholic in the VISAA Division 2 finals.
8. Atholton (16-2) LR: NR
The 2016 Maryland 3A state champion went undefeated in Howard County play last year before losing to Northern in the state semifinals.
9. Stone Bridge (26-2) LR: 10
After a tough loss to Loudoun County on Thursday, the Bulldogs will try to bounce back this week when they face Langley.
10. Arundel (19-1) LR: 5
Ten of the 16 Wildcats on the roster are underclassmen. They lost six seniors from last year, including second-team All-Met player Alicia Eldredge.
On the bubble: Northern (19-1), Bishop Ireton (22-9), South River (14-4)