PITTSBURG — With winter just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at the 2016 Morning Sun All-County Volleyball Team.
The all-county volleyball team is comprised of a coach of the year, first team, second team and honorable-mention unit. The first and second teams are made up of six players, with three athletes earning honorable mention.
Criteria used for an athlete to make an all-county team were end-of-year statistics and judgment on how important a player was to their respective team by The Morning Sun’s sports staff: Sports Editor Lucas Davis, sports reporter Jordan Buckamneer and freelancer Glenn Storey. Positions of players and how they figure on the court were not taken into consideration for the formation of each squad.
2016 MORNING SUN COACH OF THE YEAR
Megan Mantooth, Pittsburg High School
Davis: Coach Mantooth led her Purple Dragons to a Southeast Kansas League title as well as a trip to the Class 5A state tournament for the first time in 13 years in her second season as the head coach. In a year where big things were expected by PHS volleyball, Mantooth and the Dragons met nearly every goal set for the 2016 season.
Ashley Ray, senior, Girard
Davis: Ray was a dominant force at the net for the Trojans this season. She finished the year with 466 kills and 118 total blocks. Any time a team matched up with Girard this season, Ray was the top priority in figuring out how to slow down the Trojans.
Taylor Muff, senior, Pittsburg
Buckamneer: As the offensive catalyst on a historically-great Purple Dragon team, it’s no surprise that Muff will be continuing her volleyball career at the collegiate level. She was first on the team in kills with 458 and second in blocks with 72. Beyond the front-row work, she also dominated from the back, contributing 35 aces and 74 digs.
Kaylee Harper, senior, Frontenac
Storey: The multiple-sport, all-state senior capped off a successful volleyball career with a county-leading 156 blocks this season. The Raiders relied on Harper offensively also, as she had 357 kills. An underrated part of her game was her service, but she managed 12 aces and only nine service errors on the year.
Julia Falletti, senior, Frontenac
Storey: The Raiders senior libero was second in the conference with 485 digs and led the county by receiving 373 serves, with a 92 percent success rate. Falletti was second on her team in aces, finishing with 30 on the year, including a string of seven straight against Southeast earlier this year.
Bailee Ulery, senior, Southeast
Buckamneer: Ulery impacted the game in a variety of ways which kept her opponents struggling to stop. While she will be remembered for her strong attacks in the front row, she was certainly no liability in the back row either. Ulery finished first on the team in kills (258), blocks (49) and aces (53).
Kelsea Choate, senior, Northeast
Davis: Northeast had one of its best years the volleyball program has seen in its history. Choate was an integral part of the success as the team’s libero, controlling the back row as a senior leader. Choate finished the year with 498 digs and 65 service aces.
Sydnee Crain, junior, Girard
Davis: While Ray got much of the shine for the Trojans, Crain was just as important to Girard’s success this year. Crain continued to prove her versatility, having success defensively and offensively from both the front and back rows this season. She finished with 252 kills, 314 digs and 32 service aces.
Abbie Casper, senior, Pittsburg
Buckamneer: Although Muff was credited with a lot of impressive kills throughout the season, it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for Casper setting the ball to her. Casper carved out a career of passing the ball to her teams, as she was first on the team in assists, and it wasn’t even close. She finished with an amazing 883 assists, while the second highest total was 30. She was also first on the team in aces, with 42, and second in digs, with 77.
Shelby Blythe, senior, Frontenac
Storey: Starting for the first time her senior year, Blythe proved to be invaluable to her team. She finished the year with 111 blocks, good for second for the Raiders and third in the county. Blythe also had 247 kills, displaying the ability to hit from both outside positions well and excelling in the middle of the court.
Sailor Jackson, sophomore, Southeast
Buckamneer: As just a sophomore, Jackson has already proven her ability to play well against tough competition. What makes Jackson unique is her ability to play well at any position on the floor, doing whatever her team needs at any time. She tallied 207 kills — just second behind Ulery — and 47 aces. She was no slouch defensively either, contributing a team-high 276 digs.
Autumn Walker, senior, Northeast
Davis: Walker was the jack of all trades for the Vikings this season. While she excelled at the net, Walker was productive in any role for Northeast. She finished the season with 212 Kills, 203 digs and 58 aces in service as the main threat for NHS.
Emily Paterni, senior, St. Mary’s Colgan
Davis: Paterni had a strong senior season for the Panthers. As one of the leaders on the floor, she finished with a team-high 361 assists as the setter. She added 18 aces in service as well as 72 kills.
Grace VanBecelaere, senior, SMC
Davis: After graduating a pair of dominant strikers, SMC was in need of someone to step up at the net. VanBecelaere filled that role beautifully, leading the team with 304 kills and 26 solo blocks. Not limited to production in the front row, VanBecelaere contributed 103 digs and 25 aces in service.
Shaylun Grosstephan, junior, Girard
Davis: Grosstephan was the defensive backbone for Girard this season as the team’s libero. She finished leading the Trojans in digs, with 383. Grosstephan added double-digit aces, kills and assists as well for GHS.
Kaitlyn Kidd, sophomore, Pittsburg
Buckamneer: Playing on one of the best Purple Dragon teams in recent history, Kidd may not have been given all the credit she deserved. She displayed great versatility and contributed from everywhere on the floor. Up front, she was first on the team in blocks, with 95, and tallied a respectable 107 kills. In the back row, Kidd was second on the team in aces with 34, and added 19 digs.
The Morning Sun would like to congratulate the all-county honorees on a tremendous 2016 volleyball season.