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Roane State volleyball start season with tourney play at Spartanburg

The 2021 Roane State Raiders volleyball team. Pictured on the front row from left: Sally Spangler, Brooklyn James, Taryn Lane, Harper Pratt, Emily Evans, Hannah Day, Madison Boyd, Haven Stalcup and Mary Beth Luby. Back row from left: Head Coach Steve Dall- man, Morgan Lanham, Abbie Stinnett, Madison McWhorter, Chloe Howard, Olivia Elliott, Skylar Jenkins, Mattie Arnett, Katherine Roberts, Sydney Smith and Assistant Coach Madison Jergesen.
The Roane State volleyball team is set to begin its second season of competition on Aug. 20 - 21 at the Spartanburg Methodist Tournament in Spartanburg, S.C.

Head Coach Steve Dallman says he is extremely excited to start the new campaign after completing their first-ever season with a second-place conference finish. Looking toward the upcoming season, he says “I think we can challenge Walters State for the championship. We’re blessed with an extremely athletic group.”

A noticeable difference for the coming season is the team’s depth. “If injuries should become a factor,” says Dallman, “we have a lot more depth. It makes great competition in practice and it’s really exciting to see how good we can hopefully be.”

This year’s squad is a mix of proven veterans and talented incoming freshman. Some of the returning players include last season’s TCCAA Freshman of the Year, Sydney Smith. The Loudon High School graduate led the conference with 185 kills and was also first in the league with kills per set (3.78) and third in digs per set (5.27).

Another returning All-Conference performer is Taryn Lane. Lane led the conference in digs per set (7.37), which was also second-best in the nation last season. Dallman says the Seymour, Tenn. native is a “phenomenal player,” adding “Balls just don’t drop on her.”

Team captain Sally Spangler is another returning All-Conference player. According to Dallman, Spangler “has dealt with a lot of injuries but she’s a kid who gives you everything, every day, no matter how badly she’s hurting.” Dallman notes the Gibbs High School graduate is “A very, very crafty and smart hitter.”

Also returning for second seasons are Abbey Stinnett (Clinton) and Emily Evans (Powell.) Dallman says Stinnett is probably in the best shape of her life right now. “She can definitely help us both outside and in the middle.”

Regarding Evans, the veteran coach says she has a “rocket serve.” He adds, “Her serve is unbelievable. She’s going to play a big part.”

New to the Raiders this season is a trio Dallman calls his “Trifecta Towers.” Six-foot-one hitters Madison McWhorter (Memphis) and Olivia Elliott (Lenoir City) add a new dimension to the team’s offense. Joining them is another freshman hitter, six-foot-two Chloe Howard (Grimsley). Other new names on the roster include a duo from Cookeville High School, Katherine Roberts and Mattie Arnett. Dallman says Roberts has NCAA DI talent and “can definitely contribute as a starting setter.”

Arnett, who received honors as an All-American honorable mention, first-team All-State and District and Region MVP, is another DI prospect and – according to Dallman – is “probably the team’s hardest hitter.” Skylar Jenkins (Kodak) is a 5-foot-11, left-handed setter who is “very crafty and has nice hands,” notes Dallman.

Perhaps the most athletic member of the team is Madison Boyd (Murfreesboro) whom Dallman describes as “a great jumper who is an extremely good passer and smart hitter.”

Rounding out the new signees for the 2021 season are Mary Beth Luby (Oak Ridge), Morgan Lanham (Loudon), Brooklyn James (Madisonville), Hannah Day (Kingsport) and Harper Pratt (Knoxville), all of whom receive high praise from the veteran coach.