Hungry Lady Kavs prep for season

Published 12:18 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Kenston Forest School varsity girls volleyball team appears ready to build on a good foundation that it and Head Coach Katie Bellairs established last season.

The Lady Kavaliers went 12-5 in 2015 and were 8-2 in the Virginia Commonwealth Conference. They finished second in the conference in the regular season and then finished second in the conference tournament, falling to Amelia Academy.

“I would say that I’m really excited about the upcoming season because from what I’ve seen so far, the girls are hungry,” Bellairs said. “We lost two games in the conference last year to Amelia and Southampton (Academy), and this year we’re going to be competitive with everyone.”

However, Kenston Forest will miss the services of its three seniors from last season: Anna Robertson, Brooke Mason and Victoria Smith.

“All three of them were co-captains, so it’s going to hurt to have them gone, but I have three seniors coming up this year, and I have nine juniors backing them up on the varsity squad,” Bellairs said.

She expressed excitement about girls who have been stepping up to fill the void left by Smith, Mason and Robertson.

“So, I think we’re going give Amelia a run for their money,” Bellairs said.

Among the expected standouts for the 2016 Lady Kavaliers is junior Peyton Clary.

“She’s becoming a real powerhouse in the middle,” Bellairs said. “Victoria was my powerhouse last year as a middle blocker, but Peyton has got a really good arm, and she’s been working a lot in the offseason. So, I’m looking for a lot from her.”

Junior Indigo Dougherty will play as either a middle blocker or an outside hitter, depending on the dynamics of some of the other girls on the team, but she and Clary are expected to help make up for the absence of Smith.

Bellairs also highlighted a year-around player, sophomore Sterling Crowder.

“She will definitely move up to varsity,” the coach said. “It’s just a question of whether I’ll bring another sophomore with her. But she is going to be my leading setter for the varsity team. And she’s just put in a lot of work and a lot of hours, and it’s paying off for her.”

The future is bright for Kenston Forest given the presence of multiple, young talented players.

“I have another sophomore that is just really doing well, and her progression just blows my mind,” Bellairs said of outside hitter Leslie Walker. “In the next two years, what she’s going to end up (like), talent-wise, it’s just going to be really cool to see her grow.”

The coach took a moment to analyze what would be the biggest obstacle her team needs to overcome in order to be successful this year.

“I think a lot of our girls, especially at the private school, play multiple sports, and some of those sports are a lot more physical than volleyball, and so volleyball is more of a mental game, and learning how to read the other team before the play happens,” Bellairs said. “And so I think our biggest obstacle is transitioning some of these girls from the physical elements of the other sports they play into the mental elements of volleyball.”

She said she and her players just scratched the surface of the mental elements last year, “so it’s about really diving into the mental components this season, and I think we’ve established a trust now from last season that’s going to allow us to do that.”

The regular season begins for Kenston Forest on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. when the Lady Kavaliers host Tidewater Academy.