As one of the first sports back in action following the athletic hiatus brought on by COVID-19, volleyball took on new importance in the county this year, and what a season it was for some of the top teams in Union County.
Sun Valley and Marvin Ridge were the class of the area this season and dominated The Enquirer-Journal’s 2020 All-County volleyball teams. The Mavericks and Spartans placed a combined eight players across the three teams.
Earning Union County Player of the Year honors for the 2020 season was Marvin Ridge senior Mac Russ, who was second in the county in kills (181). Russ’ 4.4 kills per set led the county and was a new career-high for the outside hitter after averaging 3.3 kills per set in 2019. The Wichita State commit also contributed 29 service aces, 121 digs and 19 total blocks.
Joining Russ on the first team are fellow Marvin Ridge seniors Reagan Baylog and Katie Jamerson. Baylog was named to the first team as a middle hitter after ranking second on the Mavericks in kills (128) and first on the team in digs (154). Jamerson led the county in assists (460) for the second straight season.
The Mavericks finished second in the Southern Carolina Conference to Sun Valley in the regular season, but head coach Brook Hammers’ team lasted longer than any other county team in the state playoffs. Marvin Ridge won its first two matches of the 3A tournament before falling to T.C. Roberson last weekend.
Sun Valley head coach Rachel Henry was named the 2020 Union County Coach of the Year after leading the Spartans to their first regular season SCC title in program history. Sun Valley went 11-1 in the regular season before being upset by South Iredell, 3-1, in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Spartans placed more players on the all-county teams (five) than any other local school. Leading the way for Sun Valley on the first team are senior outside hitter Taylor Parker and sophomore middle hitter Aaliyah Mitchell. Parker was second on the team in kills (104) and led the SCC with 93 service aces, almost triple the next closest player (33). Mitchell, meanwhile, was third on the team in kills (87) and first in blocks (23).
Sun Valley placed three other players on the all-county teams — sophomore outside hitter Hailey Pearce, who led the team with 126 kills, senior middle hitter Jordan Reiter (74 kills, 31 aces, 15 blocks) and sophomore setter Amaya Hall (311 assists). With Marvin Ridge graduating three of its top players, the Spartans could rival the Mavericks again for the title of county’s best team in 2021.
Weddington was the only other SCC team with more than one player on The E-J’s all-county squads. Warriors junior Lyvia Trimp earned second-team honors after leading all county players with 189 kills, while junior outside hitter/setter Mailey Garner (69 kills, 211 assists) made the third team.
Other county teams with more than one all-county selection are Porter Ridge and Union Academy. The Pirates — who went 11-3 in the regular season before falling in the first round of the 4A playoffs — placed senior setter Savannah McIntosh (316 assists) on the second-team and sophomore Megan Brandon on the third team. Brandon led the Pirates third in kills with 116.
The Cardinals went 10-4 this season but were left out of the 1A state tournament because they finished third in the PAC 7 Conference standings. Union Academy is represented on the 2020 all-county teams by senior middle hitter Savanna Brooks (80 kills, 38 aces, 97 digs) and junior outside hitter Ryleigh Clayborn (109 kills, 29 blocks, 80 digs).
Only one player from the county’s two teams in the Rocky River Conference earned all-county honors. Forest Hills senior Hope Benson — who also stands out in basketball — earned a second-team selection after leading the Yellow Jackets in kills (74) and blocks (28).
THE ENQUIRER-JOURNAL’S 2020 ALL-COUNTY VOLLEYBALL TEAMS
Player of the Year: Mac Russ, Sr., Marvin Ridge
Coach of the Year: Rachel Henry, Sun Valley
OH: Mac Russ, Sr., Marvin Ridge
OH: Taylor Parker, Sr., Sun Valley
MH: Reagan Baylog, Sr., Marvin Ridge
MH: Aaliyah Mitchell, So., Sun Valley
S: Katie Jamerson, Sr., Marvin Ridge
OH: Lyvia Trimp, Jr., Weddington
OH: Hailey Pearce, So., Sun Valley
MH: Jordan Reiter, Sr., Sun Valley
MH: Hope Benson, Sr., Forest Hills
S: Savannah McIntosh, Sr., Porter Ridge
OH: Mailey Garner, Jr., Weddington
OH: Ryleigh Clayborn, Jr., Union Academy
MH: Savannah Brooks, Sr., Union Academy
MH: Megan Brandon, So., Porter Ridge
S: Amaya Hall, So., Sun Valley