Looking to stay on top


Get ready for some fireworks, that’s what those around the Jonathan Alder volleyball team may be saying this season.

The Lady Pioneers have won three straight Division II Central District titles, but enter the 2017 season with their third coach in as many seasons. Matt Craycraft takes over the program, he was previously an assistant at Buckeye Valley High School, but also has years of club volleyball coaching experience.

The new coach likes what he has in terms of talent and ability at Alder and plans on implementing some slight changes to the way the Pioneers have done things.

“It’ll be exciting,” he said. “We’ll play a fast style of volleyball. Our hitters will be moving everywhere and there will be a lot of action. I’ve challenged these girls, they need to be pushed and challenged. I think we’re going to be a fun team to watch.”

Alder returns a number of players who have contributed in the last couple years including a core group of seniors who are being counted on to provide leadership on the floor and off of it.

Those seniors are Kassie Blank (opposite hitter), Sarah Dickey (libero), Sam Durbin (setter) and Ally Graves (outside hitter).

Craycraft said he went to this collection of players and let them know that he needed them on board.

“I met with them very early,” he said. “We talked about goals and how we really needed the seniors to lead this program. They’ve done an amazing job. We’ve got some who are very vocal and some who are quieter but work really hard, we need both of those types of leaders.”

The Pioneers wealth of experience coupled with the talent of the players on the roster should make Alder one of the top D-II teams in Central Ohio and possibly the state. The coach said the team’s willingness to buy into what he’s teaching will go a long way in helping shape what he expects to be a team that will not only compete for a league title in the new Central Buckeye Conference but again challenge for a district crown.

“I really can’t say there’s an area I feel is a weakness,” Craycraft said. “I had a few reservations coming into the season, but these girls have been doing things well.

“This team has an incredibly high volleyball IQ. It’s helped them pick up new things quickly.”

Other members of the team include junior Hunter Kaltenbach (defensive specialist), junior Kortney Reynolds (middle hitter), junior Kayleigh Hall (outside hitter), junior Abby Jester (setter), junior Sydney Bears (defensive specialist), junior Hunter Lanson (outside hitter), junior Maddy Killian (defensive specialist), junior Corinne Parker (opposite), sophomore McKenzie Wright (setter) and freshman Ava Francis (middle hitter).

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The Lady Pioneers’ Kortney Reynolds tries to chase down the ball during the Lady Pioneers victory over Columbus Northland Tuesday. Reynolds is one of many players who return to the lineup for Alder this season.
http://www.madison-press.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/08/web1_JDG_1584a_-JAHS-No-5_-SAVES.jpgThe Lady Pioneers’ Kortney Reynolds tries to chase down the ball during the Lady Pioneers victory over Columbus Northland Tuesday. Reynolds is one of many players who return to the lineup for Alder this season. Jay Gehres | Gehres Photography
Lady Pioneers ready for 2017 season

By Chris Miles

cmiles@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.