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Volleyball has good nucleus returning

By John Estridge, Sports Editor

Franklin County's varsity volleyball team lost five seniors to graduation.

That is a hard hit for any team; however, volleyball coach Jill Mergenthal believes she has a corps unit returning to be able to improve on the last season's record.

“This team is tough,” Mergenthal said. “This is the team I coached as the JV coach two years ago. I am excited to have them back together again with the few extras that are with us. I am hoping this team shows up and finishes each set as they should.”

Lost to graduation were: Megan Getz, Meredith Bohman, Kaitlyn Obert, Layne Steele and Jenna Orschell.

“Megan Getz was an all-around athlete,” Mergenthal said. “There wasn't anything she couldn't do from serving, setting, hitting and passing. Those are the hardest athletes to replace. Meredith Bohman was a terrific middle hitter/blocker. Kaitlyn Obert, Layne Steele and Jenna Orschell were also huge contributors to the front row and back row.”

Coming back for the Wildcats are seniors: Jalynn Rogers, Kelsey Vail, Rachel Bischoff, Kelly Layton, Audrey Reister and Anna Sacksteder.

“Jalynn Rogers is back in action as the libero,”Mergenthal said. “She is a good read on the game and is always where that ball is.”

According to, the libero is a player specialized in defensive skills: the libero must wear a contrasting jersey color from their teammates and cannot block or attack the ball when it is entirely above net height. When the ball is not in play, the libero can replace any back-row player, without prior notice to the officials. This replacement does not count against the substitution limit each team is allowed per set, although the libero may be replaced only by the player whom he or she replaced.

“Kesley Vail is the defensive specialist in back row with teammate Jalynn,” Mergenthal said. “She is also a good read on where the ball is going.

“Rachel Bischoff is back as that all-around athlete,” Mergenthal said. “She brings so much power to the front row along with the calm and easy (attitude) to the back row with her passing and her serves.

“Kelly Layton and Audrey Reister are back together again proving they're hitters with just the sets that the hitters are used to,” she continued. Anna Sacksteder is back as the middle hitter.”

Pairing up with Sacksteder in the middle is junior Makyah Richardson.

“This duo is a great asset to the front row,” Mergenthal said. “They can hit and block with the best of them.”

Also vying for time on the floor is a senior, two juniors and two sophomores.

“Senior Mercedez Waddell, juniors RaeAnn Ertel and Charlotte Barrett and sophomores Alex Gillman and Saige Mergenthal will make up the rest of the front-row team,” Mergenthal said.

According to Mergenthal, the 2019 Wildcats work well together.

“This team is different than last year's team,” Mergenthal said. “They play like they've never stopped playing together since they were freshman. They are in sync with what each other are thinking.”

And they love volleyball. That is something the coach cannot teach.

“These girls love playing the game,” Mergenthal said. “They are aggressive and powerful.”

Wednesday, Aug. 14, the Wildcats travel to Centerville to play a scrimmage match. Game time is 6 p.m.

“This scrimmage to me is where I can see how the girls are going to come together in a live atmosphere,” Mergenthal said. “This is a tool I use to make further adjustments to my lineup.”

Mergenthal said many Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference teams also lost several players to graduation. Last season Greensburg won the Batesville sectional over a very good Lawrenceburg team. While Greensburg won the championship 3-1, every game was close with the Lady Pirates winning 29-27, 25-23, 22-25, 25-23.

“I have always thought our EIAC was a strong one,” Mergenthal said. Devils three times in a week. FC won the first meeting by a stroke. Richmond won the second meeting by 11. And then came the third confrontation, a dual meet at Richmond Monday, Aug. 12. This time the Red Devils won by eight strokes, 168-176.

Graf again led her teammates with a 39. Brack and McCreary tied for second with 44s. It was a personal best for McCreary. Brewer was next at 51 and Hill trailed her by one stroke at 52. Kelsey Brackney contributed a 63.

FC plays again on Thursday, Aug. 15 at New Castle.