Posted On: 04/13/21 10:01 AM
The VHSL Playoffs kicked off Monday for Regionals for teams in the commonwealth. Dozens of team continue on their quest to capture the ever elusive state title. Some are consistent contenders and champions, many are upstarts trying to break through into the realm of the perennial elite programs. This year’s regional and state tournaments are different with only the regional champion advancing to the state championship round. This time of the year is one and done and with teams having the additional hurdle of Covid and quarantines, it’s a crazy year to battle through to make it to the state championship. Class 3 has some great teams and players to watch for the 2020-21 season.
Class 3A: New Kent enters the tournament as the 1 seed for Class 3A after a stellar regular season campaign led by an extremely strong upper-class of talented players, including several AVCA Phenom nominees. The swept I.C. Norcom in the first round and now host on Colonial Heights in the semifinals on Tuesday at 6pm match-up. New Kent features tremendous depth in their roster and an offense led by 5’7 Junior Setter Haley Baker Haley Baker 5'7" | S New Kent | 2022 State VA . Baker is an AVCA Phenom nominee with a great aptitude for setting, a high volleyball IQ and strong fundamentals. Libero Andrea Sorensen Andrea Sorensen 5'5" | DS/L New Kent | 2022 State VA is also AVCA Phenom nominee. She is third on the team in digs and one of the top passers in the region. Sophomore Outside Hitter Aubrey Hyndshaw is an savvy and consistent player with great ball control and court vision for attacking. Junior Julia Hathaway leads the offense in kills and is the top in hitting efficiency (minimum of 11 attempts). Hathaway plays middle and pairs with other Jaiden McKay to make a formidable offensive middle attack and solid blocking, despite being somewhat undersized. Other players to watch include Setter Clara Foster and Outside Hitter Darian Mason. They have a lot of depth and are a great ball control team. Their challenge could be bigger teams with great ball control in their pursuit of a state title. Colonial Height finished the regular season 4-8 and swept Petersburg in the first round. Their offense is run by Junior Setter Mattagyn McLaughlin who led the team with 154 assists and second in aces with 27 on the season. The top hitters on the team are Senior Outside Hitter Caroline Pond and Freshman Rylei Buck. Buck has had an impressive first season with 62 kills in a team leading 232 attempts in her first season. She also leads the team with 85 digs. Pond leads the team with 70 kills in her final season. Semifinal #2 features Tabb traveling to Lafayette for the chance to play in the finals. This will be the third matchup between the two programs this season. Lafayette won the first meeting in 5 sets for the season opener. Tabb rebounded to with the March 23 rematch in 5 sets. Both teams won on the opponents court. Tabb is led by Junior Outside Hitter Sarah Callender Sarah Callender 5'9" | OH Tabb | 2022 State VA , who is coming off a First Team All Region and Second Team All State selection last season. She is a high level prospect who is on the radar of Division 1 coaches. She leads the team with 189 kills and a .379 hitting percentage. The other part of the Tabb dynamic duo is Sophomore Alli Pratt who had 107 kills in just 213 swings. At 6’0, she is a dynamic and imposing blocker and should have a strong impact in Regionals and possibly beyond. Senior Setter Sydney Gabriel leads the offense with 345 assists and 27 aces. Photo: Kimberly Lawson, Kimberly Lawson Lafayette had a solid season under new Head Coach Valerie McDonald. Led by Seniors Charlotte Burgess (Libero) and Middle/Setter Emma Sullivan, Lafayette has good size and ball control to challenge for the bid for states. Sullivan and Burgess are Division 1 prospects as well as Junior Middle Hitter Olivia Brown. The team has a good sized block and that could be a difference maker for a tightly contested Class 3A Regional tournament. Sullivan is a powerful lefty who is a 6 rotation player and can set. At 6’1, she is a very solid player fundamentally and can have an impact in any facet of the game. Brown is an athletic middle with a fast arm and quick reads and reactions. She is capable offensively with range and power and is a tireless worker in transition. Burgess is a great libero with solid ball control and reading skills and communicates well with her blockers to optimize the team defense.